John McCain on Environment

Republican nominee for President; Senior Senator (AZ)

Create green jobs to help economy & environment

Q: What would you do for the environment?

McCAIN: We can move forward, and clean up our climate, and develop green technologies, and alternative energies for battery-powered cars, so that we can clean up our environment and at the same time get our economy going by creating millions of jobs.

OBAMA: It is critical that we understand this is not just a challenge, it’s an opportunity, because if we create a new energy economy, we can create five million new jobs, easily. It can be an engine that drives us into the future the same way the computer was the engine for economic growth over the last couple of decades. We can do it, but we’re going to have to make an investment. The same way the computer was originally invented by a bunch of government scientists who were trying to figure out, for defense purposes, how to communicate, we’ve got to understand that this is a national security issue, as well.

Source: 2008 second presidential debate against Barack Obama Oct 7, 2008

GovWatch: Voted for one Congressional Katrina investigation

McCain was asked on June 4, 2008, “Why did you vote against the creation of the commission to investigate the levee failures around New Orleans?” McCain answered, “I have supported every investigation and ways of finding out what caused the tragedy.”

In fact, McCain twice voted against a Democratic proposal to set up an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the causes of the Bush administration’s fumbled response to Hurricane Katrina, opting instead for a congressional investigation.

Had McCain chosen to give a “straight talk” answer, he might have acknowledged voting against Hillary Clinton’s proposal for an independent commission while explaining why he preferred a Congressional investigation. Instead, he laid himself open to criticism by saying that he had supported “every investigation” into the tragedy.

Source: GovWatch on 2008: Washington Post analysis Jun 5, 2008

Support much tougher regulations on emission requirements

Q: Schwarzenegger has proposed that California be allowed to implement much tougher emission requirements than apply to the rest of the country. Do you side with the governor or with the Bush administration?

A: I have to agree with the governor. I’m a federalist. The states should decide to enormous degrees what happens within those states, including off their coasts. The people of California have decided they don’t want oil drilling off their coasts. The people of Louisiana have decided that they do. I applaud the governor’s efforts and that of other states in this region and other states to try to eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Suppose that the governor and I are wrong, and there’s no such thing as climate change. We adopt these green technologies, of which the US and the innovative skills we have and the entrepreneurship and the free market cap-and-trade proposal is enacted. Then all we’ve done is giving our kids a cleaner world.

Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

FactCheck: Criticized $3M “bear DNA” study, but voted for it

McCain’s TV ad criticizes an earmark that provided “$3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana.” This is not the first time McCain has poked fun at the bear project. He first mentioned it on the Senate floor, on Feb. 13, 2003: “One can only imagine and conjure up an idea as to how this might be used. Approach a bear: That bear cub over there claims you are his father, and we need to take your DNA. Approach another bear: Two hikers had their food stolen by a bear, and we think it is you.”

Good laugh lines, maybe, but the USGS’s Grizzly Bear Project didn’t study DNA for paternity tests or forensics. Rather, it explored a means of estimating Montana’s grizzly bear population by analyzing bear fur snagged on barbed wire.

McCain he didn’t actually try to remove the bear project from the bill. He did introduce three amendments to reduce funding, but none removing the grizzly bear project appropriations. And despite his criticisms, he voted in favor of the final bill.

Source: FactCheck.org: AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Outrageous” Nov 20, 2007

Economic & environmental interests not mutually exclusive

John McCain has a proud record of common sense stewardship of our nation’s rich natural heritage. Along with his commitment to clean air and water, and to conserving open space, he has been a leader on the issue of global warming with the courage to call the nation to action on an issue we can no longer afford to ignore.

America has been blessed with a rich and diverse natural heritage. In the tradition of his hero, Theodore Roosevelt, John McCain believes that we are vested with a sacred duty to be proper stewards of the resources upon which the quality of American life depends.

John McCain believes that America’s economic and environmental interests are not mutually exclusive, but rather inextricably linked. Our economic prospects depend greatly upon the sustainable use of ample and unspoiled natural resources. A clean and healthy environment is well served by a strong economy. History shows that poverty is a poor steward.

Source: Campaign website, www.johnmccain.com, “Issues” Sep 1, 2007

Scored 40% on Humane Society Scorecard on animal protection

Source: Humane Society 109th Congress Scorecard, www.fund.org Jan 31, 2007

1996: Put 3.5B acres of land into wilderness protection

McCain wrote in the Arizona Republic on Nov. 27 1996, “a deep skepticism exists in the electorate about the party’s commitment to protecting the environment. Have Republicans abandoned their roots as the party of Theodore Roosevelt, who maintained that government’s most important task, with the exception of national security, is to leave posterity a land in better condition than they receive it? The answer must be ‘No.’ ”

[McCain described a past bipartisan effort with Mo Udall]: “We were able to place more than 3.5 billion acres of land into wilderness protection, increase the preservation of public lands and tackle complex environmental threats to the Grand Canyon.” McCain was obviously making a political statement with the new---and increasingly tough---stand he was taking on the environment.

Source: Man of the People, by Paul Alexander, p.181 Jan 19, 2004

Preserving wilderness among proudest achievements

I cosponsored two bills with Mo Udall. The first, enacted in 1964, added 1 million acres to the wilderness area established in his 1964 legislation. The second, enacted four years after my election to the Senate, set aside 1.4 million acres of Arizona desert wilderness. My contribution to both bills was a fraction of Mo’s, but I consider them to be among my proudest achievements as a legislator.
Source: Worth the Fighting For, by John McCain, p. 81 Sep 24, 2002

1980s: 1st House committee was water rights, crucial to AZ

To ensure his reelection, McCain got on the right committees. He joined a committee dealing with water rights, crucial to the urban growth of the Southwest and the Rocky Mountain states. (The expansion of Phoenix was made possible by access to strategic water resources in turn connected to federal irrigation projects and dam construction).

McCain got a seat on a committee dealing with aging issues, crucial in a state that, because of its dry, temperate climate, had absorbed many retirees from other parts of the country.

By 1984, he got on the choice Armed Services Committee which was crucial in a state that had many high-tech defense-related industries. In a larger sense, however, being on the Armed Services Committee also played to McCain's political strength in national-security affairs and foreshadowed a wider, perhaps less parochial focus in the upcoming Senate race, which he surely must have been contemplating after winning an easy reelection to the House in 1984.

Source: John McCain: An Essay, by John Karaagac, p.147-148 Sep 20, 2000

Preserve and help our National Parks

Q: Do you think tougher laws are needed to protect our environment?
A: Theodore Roosevelt was my hero and is to this day. He was responsible for the National Parks system, the crown jewels of America. They are $6 billion underfunded, they’re under enormous strain.
Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa Jan 16, 2000

Repeal ban on new roads in wilderness due to bad process

McCain would repeal Clinton’s recent executive order banning roads in more than 50 million acres of pristine wilderness. McCain did not oppose protecting the national forest preserve. Rather he objected to taking the action through an executive order, even though the order set off a rule-making process that includes public comment. “The idea that Washington knows best and that local residents cannot be trusted to do what’s right in their own backyard is the epitome of federal arrogance,” he said.
Source: NY Times, p. A22 Dec 21, 1999

Use park visitor fees for park development bonds

McCain called for new investment in the country’s 379 national parks, including the creation of bonds backed by park visitation fees. He proposed to create “capital development bonds” to refurbish the parks. Under his plan, the secretary of the interior would contract with private fund-raising groups to issue the bonds. McCain also said that $800 million recently awarded to the federal government from a settlement over disputed Alaska oil lease revenues should be dedicated to the parks.
Source: NY Times, p. A22 Dec 21, 1999

Preserve natural resources for future.

McCain has worked creatively to help preserve our natural resources for future generations.
Source: McCain Exploratory Cmte. Web Site Jul 2, 1999

Voted NO on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program.

Congressional Summary:Emergency supplemental appropriations of $2 billion for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Program.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. OBEY (D, WI-7): The cash for clunkers program has proven even more wildly popular than its strongest supporters had predicted. Just last month, Congress passed the program, which provided up to $4,500 if you trade in your old gas guzzler for a new car that gets better mileage. That was done in the hopes of spurring some new car sales and encouraging people to be a little more environmentally friendly. We provided $1 billion in the supplemental to get it going, enough for about 250,000 sales--which was just about exhausted in one week. This bill transfers $2 billion from the Department of Energy's Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee program, which doesn't expect to award funding until late next year.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LEWIS (R, CA-41): In the majority's haste to slam legislation with no time for consideration or amendments, we are now seeing the effects of such shortsighted martial law tactics.

Senator Feinstein tried to negotiate some changes to improve the program but was told that it was this way or the highway. Not one hearing on the Cash for Clunkers program, not one hearing on how the first billion dollars has been spent, not one hearing on how much money the program will need to get through the fiscal year.

Many of my colleagues will say, This is a great program, and it is necessary for the revitalization of the car industry. I'm not really going to argue with those goals. However, are we sure this program is working like it's supposed to? I don't think so. This program has only been up and running 1 week. If that is how the government is going to handle billion-dollar programs affecting all Americans, I ask, Whatever will we do if the administration takes control of our health care system?

Reference: Cash for Clunkers bill; Bill H.R. 3435 ; vote number 2009-S270 on Aug 6, 2009

Voted YES on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations.

A joint resolution disapproving the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on March 15, 2005, relating to the removal of coal- and oil-fired electric generating units from the list of major sources of hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule:
Reference: EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule; Bill S J Res 20 ; vote number 2005-225 on Sep 13, 2005

Voted YES on confirming Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior.

Vote to confirm the nomination of Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior. [Ms. Norton generally favors conservative or libertarian stances on the environment.]
Reference: Bill Confirmation vote ; vote number 2001-6 on Jan 30, 2001

Voted YES on transportation demo projects.

McCain amendment to the transportation reauthorization bill (S. 1173) would require that funding for demonstration projects be covered by their respective state allocations instead of being funded individually in the transportation bill.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)78; N)22
Reference: McCain Amdt #1726; Bill S. 1173 ; vote number 1998-29 on Mar 12, 1998

Voted NO on reducing funds for road-building in National Forests.

Vote on an amendment to cut the $47.4 million provided for Forest Service road construction by $10 million, and to eliminate the purchaser credit program [which provides credits to timber companies to offset what they owe the government].
Reference: Bill HR.2107 ; vote number 1997-242 on Sep 17, 1997

Voted NO on continuing desert protection in California.

Invoking cloture on the California desert protection bill. ["Invoking cloture" means "ending the discussion and calling a vote." A NO vote in this case would continue discussing whether to terminate the existing program, and hence is considered pro-business and/or anti-environment].
Status: Cloture Agreed to Y)68; N)23; NV)9
Reference: California Desert Protection Act of 1993; Bill S. 21 ; vote number 1994-326 on Oct 8, 1994

Voted YES on requiring EPA risk assessments.

Require risk assessments of new EPA regulations.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)90; N)8; NV)2
Reference: Safe Drinking Water Act Amdt.s of '94; Bill S. 2019 ; vote number 1994-117 on May 18, 1994

End commercial whaling and illegal trade in whale meat.

McCain co-sponsored a resolution for the International Whaling Commission

Source: Resolution sponsored by 20 Senators 01-SR121 on Jun 29, 2001

Supports grants for brownfields remediation.

McCain adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:

H.R. 2941 Brownfields Redevelopment Enhancement Act.
Republican Main Street Partnership Congresswomen Marge Roukema (NJ), Sue Kelly (NY), and Melissa Hart (PA) as well as Congressman Paul Gillmor (PA) have introduced legislation providing a new source of funding for improving former industrial sites. H.R. 2941 reauthorizes the Brownfields Remediation Grant Program as well as creating a new loan program for brownfields redevelopment. The pilot program encourages cities to tap private loans for civic improvements by using the federal grants as collateral. The bill allows for Community Development Block Grants to be used in industrial site clean up as well.

Source: Republican Main Street Partnership Legislative Agenda 02-RMSP2 on May 24, 2002

Make EPA into a Cabinet department.

McCain adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:

H.R. 2438/H.R. 2694 Department of Environmental Protection Act.
Republican Main Street Partnership members Sherwood Boehlert (NY) and Steve Horn (CA) each have introduced legislation that would elevate the position of Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to that of cabinet level. Initially, the EPA served as a regulatory agency, but as a result of numerous statutes enacted by Congress, the agency's jurisdiction has swelled. Each bill would redesignate the EPA as the Department of Environmental Protection. RMSP supports the efforts of Congressman Vern Ehlers to include a deputy administrator for science within the department.

Source: Republican Main Street Partnership Legislative Agenda 02-RMSP3 on May 24, 2002

Rated 53% by the LCV, indicating a mixed record on environment.

McCain scores 53% by the LCV on environmental issues

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders. The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.

Source: LCV website 03n-LCV on Dec 31, 2003

EPA must do better on mercury clean-up.

McCain signed a letter from 45 Senators to EPA

To: Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Dear Administrator Leavitt:

We are writing to urge you to take prompt and effective action to clean up mercury pollution from power plants. The EPA’s current proposals on mercury fall far short of what the law requires, and they fail to protect the health of our children and our environment. We ask you to carry out the requirements of the Clean Air Act to protect our nation from toxic mercury contamination.

On January 30, 2004, EPA proposed two alternative rules to address mercury emissions. Unfortunately, both of these proposals fail to meet the Clean Air Act directives for cleaning up mercury. EPA's proposals permit far more mercury pollution, and for years longer, than the Clean Air Act allows.

The toxicity of mercury has been proven time and again by scientists around the world. The Agency's own scientists just released a study finding that approximately 630,000 infants were born in the US in the 12-month period, 1999-2000, with blood mercury levels higher than what is considered safe. This is a doubling of previous estimates.

The newest scientific studies show that controlling mercury emissions works. As we saw in Florida, sharp reductions in mercury pollution are mirrored by reductions in nearby fish populations. A study in northern Wisconsin indicated that reductions in the input of mercury from air corresponded with marked reductions in mercury fish tissue levels in the 1990s.

As the Administrator of the EPA, you have the legal authority and the responsibility to address mercury emissions and protect public health. We do not believe that EPA's current proposals are sufficient or defensible. We urge you to withdraw the entire proposed rule package and re-propose a rule for adequate public comment that meets the terms of the 1998 settlement agreement and is promulgated by the December 15, 2004 deadline.

Source: Letter from 45 Senators to EPA 04-SEN1 on Apr 1, 2004

Focus on results, not regulation.

McCain adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership issue stance:

Source: Republican Main Street Partnership Issue Paper: Environment 98-RMSP1 on Sep 9, 1998

Other candidates on Environment: John McCain on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010