All of the Above, My Friends

John McCain talks a lot about energy. It's one of the issues he hopes will win this election for him. He likes to talk about how his energy plan for America includes "all of the above." Maybe at some point in the past, McCain did actually care about energy that we didn't dig out of the ground, but today the truth is that he has become indistinguishable from his Republican congressional colleagues, a friend to the oil companies who thinks that if he uses the word 'green' enough, the American people will not bother to examine his record.

He puts images of windmills in his advertisements and pays lip service to renewables in his speeches, but seems unwilling to back his talk up with substance. The entirety of the GOP plan which he has made his own is summed up by his call at the Sturgis rally to "drill here, drill now", with a thousand motorcycles revving in the background. If he really cared about green energy, why has he missed the vote 8 times in the past year on a vital bill to renew the investment tax credits that renewable technologies desperately need to compete with fossil fuels? John McCain is blatantly greenwashing his record and his policies, when in reality they're nothing but an glass of texas tea with a lump of coal for garnish.

Among other things, S.3335
"Extends the tax credit for producing electricity from wind facilities through 2009 and the tax credit for closed and open-loop biomass, geothermal, small irrigation, hydropower, landfill gas, and trash combustion facilities through 2011. Includes marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy as a renewable resource for purposes of such tax credit. Extends the energy tax credit for solar energy and the residential energy efficient property tax credit through 2016. Extends the energy tax credits for fuel cell and microturbine property through 2017. Allows a new investment tax credit for combined heat and power system property. Provides funding for new clean renewable energy bonds to finance electricity production from certain renewable resources and for qualified energy conservation bonds."

Sounds like exactly the kind of bill a candidate keen to sharpen his green credentials would love to get behind, even if it mostly maintains the status quo. Without these incentives, investment in solar and wind power, which is finally picking up, will stall.

What impact does this have? In the solar industry today there is a rush to finish any project that would be up and running by Dec. 31 -- when the credits expire -- and most everything beyond that is now on hold. Consider the Solana concentrated solar power plant, 70 miles southwest of Phoenix in McCain's home state. It is the biggest proposed concentrating solar energy project ever. The farsighted local utility is ready to buy its power.

But because of the Senate's refusal to extend the solar tax credits, "we cannot get our bank financing," said Fred Morse, a senior adviser for the American operations of Abengoa Solar, which is building the project. "Without the credits, the numbers don't work." Some 2,000 construction jobs are on hold.

So why has McCain avoided casting his vote when specific issues that matter are on the table? You might be thinking: "Doesn't McCain have one of the worst attendance records in the Senate? Maybe these votes were like so many others: just not important enough to warrant a slot in his schedule." This is a reasonable defense. After all, it's a difficult business running for president, and time consuming as hell. And Obama also missed the most recent vote on the measure, although he's voted for it several times in the past. Each time it's been defeated by what Thomas Friedman calls"a hard core of Republican senators who either don't want to give Democrats such a victory in an election year or simply don't believe in renewable energy." It's clear that despite his talk, McCain is a part of this group. His absences were not due to laziness: during one of the votes, he was yards away in his Senate office and refused to walk down the hall to cast a vote. McCain is thoroughly in the pocket of traditional energy companies, and he refuses to back any measure that could jeopardize their grip on our energy market. We're finally close to the point where solar and wind power could become viable competitors for electricity production, and McCain won't help to pass the bill that is closing the gap. Instead, he wastes his breath on this deceptive offshore drilling wedge the GOP has concocted.

Look at the 'issues' section of his web site, which candidates often use to promise the world, whether or not they intend to deliver it. Here he could at least try to explain why anyone should believe that he's going to help put up those windmills he puts in his advertisements. John McCain doesn't even bother:
  1. Expanding Domestic Oil And Natural Gas Exploration And Production
  2. Taking Action Now To Break Our Dependency On Foreign Oil By Reforming Our Transportation Sector
  3. Investing In Clean, Alternative Sources Of Energy
  4. Protecting Our Environment By Addressing Climate Change
  5. Promoting Energy Efficiency
  6. Addressing Speculative Pricing Of Oil
1,2 and 6 deal only with fossil fuel. We know that he's not serious on 5, since his campaign saw fit to devote an entire week to mocking Obama when he made a passing reference to a simple measure Americans could take that would save more gasoline than the entire GOP offshore drilling plan would produce. His climate change policy consists of a lot of vague cap-and-trade hand waving with no teeth. So that leaves his proposals on alternative energy. The only substantive proposals here are a call for carbon sequestration and 100 new nuclear plants. That is what McCain calls 'alternative energy'. Coal and nuclear. To be fair, the section also contains: "John McCain believes in an even-handed system of tax credits that will remain in place until the market transforms sufficiently to the point where renewable energy no longer merits the taxpayers' dollars."

From his intentionally missed votes so far on tax credits, it's clear that McCain thinks that "the point where renewable energy no longer merits the taxpayers' dollars" has already arrived.

Tags: alternative, Energy, green, mccain, Oil, renewable (all tags)

Comments

4 Comments

Re: All of the Above, My Friends

Great diary.  Rec'd.

by fogiv 2008-08-13 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: All of the Above, My Friends

Oh, and I'd comment more substantively on it if I didn't have a conference call in five minutes to plan for the development of a wind energy facility in New Mexico.

:)

by fogiv 2008-08-13 11:55AM | 0 recs
That's
a pretty damn good reason.
by semiquaver 2008-08-13 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: All of the Above, My Friends

Too much information...
No Buzz
Thanks from me...Rec..

Please continue...some of us pay attention....

by nogo postal 2008-08-13 01:49PM | 0 recs

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