Tomorrow, to bolster his environmental credentials, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will tour and likely marvel at the pristine Florida Everglades. What a difference a year makes: in 2007, McCain displayed far less concern for “one of America’s greatest national treasures.”
Bucking environmentalists and the state’s political establishment, who had spent seven years lobbying for sweeping Everglades cleanup legislation, McCain, too busy on the campaign trail to vote on the measure, “opposed spending $2 billion on restoring the national park,” and urged colleagues to let President Bush’s veto of the preservation bill stand:
I believe that we should be passing a bill that will authorize legitimate, needed projects without sacrificing fiscal responsibility.
But it’s not clear if McCain is familiar with what’s “needed” for Everglades restoration. The senator, who has called himself an environmentalist, “did not participate in the landmark debate over the state-federal partnership to preserve the Everglades in 2000″ and “was ‘out of town’ for the 85-1 vote in the Senate.”
In fact, McCain has “skipped every one of the 15…critical measures for the environment” in the past year and scored “a stunning zero out of 100 on the latest League of Conservation Voters Scorecard, which rates elected officials on their votes in the most recent Congress.”
McCain has been busy courting land developers who want to trample on the Everglades. Al Hoffman, a top fund raiser for McCain, and former co-chair of Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000, was the head of a group of developers who filed a legal challenge seeking to block the restoration project. At the time of the challenge, Hoffman believed that development of the Everglades was inevitable:
“You can’t stop it…There’s no power on earth that can stop it!…It’s an inevitable tidal wave!“
Indeed, despite his opportunistic photo-ops, McCain’s disastrous environmental record suggests that developers like Hoffman will certainly be unstoppable.
UPDATE: Yesterday, McCain told a group of Florida newspaper editors, “I am in favor of doing whatever’s necessary to save the Everglades.”