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McCain energy bombshell: More oil + dirty coal. That’s Bush-lite, crude, and not sweet.

By Joe Romm  

"McCain energy bombshell: More oil + dirty coal. That’s Bush-lite, crude, and not sweet."

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Lost in all the deserved criticism of John McCain’s flipflop on offshore oil drilling is the most stunning sentence in his entire energy speech. Attacking Barack Obama, McCain says:

He doesn’t support more traditional use of coal, either.

Seriously. The same day McCain is pushing a new ad on global warming to pander to people who genuinely care about the climate and think he might be different from Bush, he is pandering to those who care nothing whatsoever about the climate.
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McCain says he wants to cut U.S. carbon emissions from coal oil and natural gas by 70% by 2050, but he also says wants to drill for more oil offshore (which would cut U.S. gasoline prices maybe two to four cents in a decade or more) and he wants to build more traditional, dirty coal plants that don’t even capture their carbon.

Is he so cynical that he thinks the voters are that easily fooled?

Is his base (the media) that easily fooled?

Is there a Society of American Mavericks and Eccentrics (SAME) that can revoke his membership.

Related posts:

‹ Five Years Ago, McCain ‘Stood Up To The President,’ But Today He Embraces Bush

Global Boiling: Midwest Climate Disaster Predicted in 2000 ›

35 Responses to McCain energy bombshell: More oil + dirty coal. That’s Bush-lite, crude, and not sweet.

  1. hapa says:

    McCAIN: “TO BEAT GLOBAL WARMING ONCE AND FOR ALL, WE MUST HAVE A CARBON SURGE”

  2. hapa says:

    maybe next he’ll go walking around cedar rapids in high-water gear to get out the good news on our improving weather situation.

  3. Paul K says:

    Voters understand that energy freedom and economic survival come before climate salvation. Your preferred path, immediate clamp down on CO2 emissions, has the support of only 38 of the Democratic Senators. Most Americans favor using our own bountiful resources.

  4. hapa says:

    well if most americans favor using sun and wind, why are washington people so far behind on that issue?

  5. Earl Killian says:

    Paul K, eliminating our greenhouse gas emissions is a prerequisite to “economic survival”, so economic survival cannot “come before”. Americans may not realize this yet, but helping to effect that realization is presumably a primary purpose of ClimateProgress.org.

    What do you mean by “Most Americans favor using our own bountiful resources”? I know Joe believes in using America’s bountiful resources (e.g. our bountiful sunshine, our bountiful wind, etc.), but I suspect you mean something different in your statement. If you mean America’s remaining fossil energy, that is likely to trigger an economic catastrophe, i.e. contrary to the “economic survival” imperative you cited in the first sentence.

  6. Paul K says:

    Earl Killian and hapa,
    Of course I include wind and solar among our bountiful resources. I’d bet 90% of Americans favor increased alternative energy production. A growing 57% favor going after more of our own carbon. It is not, as you would like it to be, an either/or situation.

    The question is how those of us who agree that fossil fuels can, will, should and must be replaced over the next century should proceed. The focus on CO2 and the exhortation of impending doom is proving to be an ineffective strategy. The idea of raising carbon costs to force alternatives is a non starter. The people will not allow it.

    I am sure it is very frustrating for those who put their faith in politicians and government action. You have to decide which is more important, reaching a goal or winning an argument.

  7. gLORIA s says:

    http://tennesseepolicy.org/main/article.php?article_id=764

    Energy Guzzled by Al Gore’s Home in Past Year Could Power 232 U.S. Homes for a Month
    Gore’s personal electricity consumption up 10%, despite “energy-efficient” home renovations

    NASHVILLE – In the year since Al Gore took steps to make his home more energy-efficient, the former Vice President’s home energy use surged more than 10%, according to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.

    “A man’s commitment to his beliefs is best measured by what he does behind the closed doors of his own home,” said Drew Johnson, President of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. “Al Gore is a hypocrite and a fraud when it comes to his commitment to the environment, judging by his home energy consumption.”

    In the past year, Gore’s home burned through 213,210 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, enough to power 232 average American households for a month.

    In February 2007, An Inconvenient Truth, a film based on a climate change speech developed by Gore, won an Academy Award for best documentary feature. The next day, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research uncovered that Gore’s Nashville home guzzled 20 times more electricity than the average American household.

    After the Tennessee Center for Policy Research exposed Gore’s massive home energy use, the former Vice President scurried to make his home more energy-efficient. Despite adding solar panels, installing a geothermal system, replacing existing light bulbs with more efficient models, and overhauling the home’s windows and ductwork, Gore now consumes more electricity than before the “green” overhaul.

    Since taking steps to make his home more environmentally-friendly last June, Gore devours an average of 17,768 kWh per month –1,638 kWh more energy per month than before the renovations – at a cost of $16,533. By comparison, the average American household consumes 11,040 kWh in an entire year, according to the Energy Information Administration.

    In the wake of becoming the most well-known global warming alarmist, Gore won an Oscar, a Grammy and the Nobel Peace Prize. In addition, Gore saw his personal wealth increase by an estimated $100 million thanks largely to speaking fees and investments related to global warming hysteria.

    “Actions speak louder than words, and Gore’s actions prove that he views climate change not as a serious problem, but as a money-making opportunity,” Johnson said. “Gore is exploiting the public’s concern about the environment to line his pockets and enhance his profile.”

    The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a Nashville-based free market think tank and watchdog organization, obtained information about Gore’s home energy use through a public records request to the Nashville Electric Service.

  8. Paul K says:

    gLORIA s,
    Just the link and perhaps a brief quote, please. Saves page space.

  9. David B. Benson says:

    gLORIA s — Yawn.

  10. Gary Herstein says:

    My thanks to gLORIA for demonstrating once again that the only thing the Deniers ever recycle are puerile nonsense and logical fallacies.

    The fallacies in this instance are the Red Herring: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/redherrf.html

    and the Specious Analogy (often called “Weak Analogy”):
    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/wanalogy.html

    Per the Red Herring, Al Gore’s lifestyle is irrelevant to the truth or falsity of his argument. That his argument is largely (if not simply) true has been amply borne out by the legitimate scientific commentary.

    Per the Specious Analogy, (1) the numbers given are old news about (2) a building that has since been substantially retro-fitted to soften its carbon footprint, as has been adequately documented here (look that one up yourself in the search box), and most importantly from the Specious Analogy perspective, (3) the comparison is meaningless since Gore’s home includes a significant amount of working office area, several live-in sections for staff, and a substantial facility for the Secret Service contingent detailed to him for the rest of his life (because he once ran for President). Maybe I just don’t understand the lifestyle of the “average American household,” but I’d be willing to bet money that they generally don’t include any of the above. And people who know me know how reluctant I am to bet money on anything.

    Just to trump one possible bit of arm-waving: One of the other typical Red Herring/Specious Analogy arguments that circulates on the web compares Gore’s house with the Bush house in Crawford. Once again, the speciousness of the comparison stands out the instant one notes that the Crawford house was built from scratch to employ the latest conservation technologies for economic reasons, and does not include any of the office, professional living space, or Secret Service facilities that are integrated into Gore’s home.

    By the bye, all of these facts are readily discovered on the Web, if you just bother to look.

  11. hapa says:

    @paul k:

    It is not, as you would like it to be, an either/or situation.

    not politically. only in terms of actual available resources and the consequences of using them.

    The question is how those of us who agree that fossil fuels can, will, should and must be replaced over the next century should proceed.

    over the next century? you should proceed to the lake and jump in while there’s still water in it. or wait: maybe a lake will conveniently come to you.

    The focus on CO2 and the exhortation of impending doom is proving to be an ineffective strategy.

    i don’t really have enough money to bribe you. i have to depend on your ability to learn.

    The idea of raising carbon costs to force alternatives is a non starter. The people will not allow it.

    and you’re speaking from experience, aren’t you. if people’d known the true costs of the iraq war, the time it would take, the toll it would take, the actual relevance of it to fighting al-qaeda… they’d never have supported it.

    so we will take your example to heart.

    we all promise to offer a true goal for an honest price and real benefits.

    I am sure it is very frustrating for those who put their faith in politicians and government action.

    no, your people have demonstrated a real knack for running things into the ground. the swiss watch of bad faith negotiation and unsustainable policy.

    You have to decide which is more important, reaching a goal or winning an argument.

    blackmail suits you. no one would ever expect better, either.

  12. Paul K says:

    hapa,
    “over the next century? you should proceed to the lake and jump in while there’s still water in it. or wait: maybe a lake will conveniently come to you.”
    Certainly you understand the the replacement of fossil fuel is a process over time. I’m for doing the feasible to accelerate that process.

    “I don’t really have enough money to bribe you. I have to depend on your ability to learn.” Here’s what I’ve learned. The number one impediment to widespread use of solar and wind is the high initial cost of installation. I say find ways to bring that cost down.

    “If people’d known the true costs of the iraq war, the time it would take, the toll it would take, the actual relevance of it to fighting al-qaeda… they’d never have supported it.” Exactly so. Your statement reinforces my argument.

    “so we will take your example to heart.” If you do, you’ll drive a car that gets over 30 mph in the city, use public transportation, install a high efficiency furnace, keep the heat at or below 68F, and I could go on.

    “we all promise to offer a true goal for an honest price and real benefits” Please do.

    “no, your people have demonstrated a real knack for running things into the ground. the swiss watch of bad faith negotiation and unsustainable policy.” I confess I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

    “blackmail suits you. no one would ever expect better, either.” What are you on?

  13. Earl Killian says:

    Paul K said, “You have to decide which is more important, reaching a goal or winning an argument.” I am interested in the goal; the purpose of the argument is to help achieve the goal. Those who mislead people (e.g. saying that all we have to do is drill a little more to make prices go down) are moving people away from the goal by providing them a mirage to chase after in the desert. It is important to discredit such mirages so that the caravan head towards the oasis.

  14. Paul K says:

    Earl Killian,
    I think there are at least three or four good reasons people might have to replace fossil fuel. What good does it do if disagreement over which reason is the best impedes action? As to the price of oil, I think we agree that only a reduction in demand will bring long term downward pressure.

  15. hapa says:

    @paul k:

    I’m for doing the feasible to accelerate that process.… The number one impediment to widespread use of solar and wind is the high initial cost of installation.

    ok!

    you don’t know that energy efficiency is cheaper than anything that can be installed, industrial wind power is now cost-competitive on installation, and industrial solar thermal is within a few years of being cost-competitive.

    but somehow you do know what’s feasible.

    guess what: you’re wrong! about both parts.

    Your statement reinforces my argument.

    yeah sure. you’re arguing that all low estimates should be assessed as equally dishonest. i’m arguing that one side of the argument makes up numbers as it sees fit, high, low, whatever, just sell the product.

    why we’re practically plagiarists, we’re so close.

    [standard blind accusation of hypocrisy]

    you don’t know and you don’t get to. my average impact — as an american and as a human being — is all that matters to me. if that doesn’t go down, the rest doesn’t mean anything.

    the swiss watch of bad faith negotiation and unsustainable policy.

    I confess I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

    here, i have provided a helpful blockquote, directly above, to explain “bad faith.”

    what are you on?

    a deadline.

  16. hapa says:

    *funky formatting correction:

    “the swiss watch of bad faith negotiation and unsustainable policy.”
    I confess I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

    here, i have provided a helpful blockquote, directly above, to explain “bad faith.”

  17. Paul K says:

    hapa,
    I have repeatedly supported efficiencies to reduce demand in previous comments on this site. Joe’s declaration that widespread application of currently available technologies and efficiencies is sufficient to the task is what keeps me a fan of climateprogress.

    A hypothetical question: If I could guarantee 80% replacement of fossil fuel use by 2050 if you never again spoke of global warming, would you do it?

  18. Gary Herstein says:

    @Paul K says: “A hypothetical question: If I could guarantee 80% replacement of fossil fuel use by 2050 if you never again spoke of global warming, would you do it?”

    Since there is no imaginable set of circumstances under which you could actually make such a guarantee, it does not even function as a hypothetical question. (Hypotheticals are still possible.)

  19. Paul K says:

    Gary Herstein,
    I can easily imagine a set of circumstances under which I can make such a guarantee. It is, of course, a journey of many steps. Here are some of them.
    Eliminate capital gains taxes on alternatives investment. Use procurement to jump start U.S. hybrid production. Pass utility payback laws in every state. Allow more nuclear. Non corn based biofuels – I hesitate to use the word breakthrough here, but there are exciting things happening in this area. Upgrade the grid both in efficiency and to include HVDC. If this is not enough to at least qualify my question as hypothetical, I’ll be happy to go on to year two.

  20. Earl Killian says:

    Paul K said, “I think there are at least three or four good reasons people might have to replace fossil fuel.

    Hmm, “might have to” doesn’t sound very convincing. Worse, if you don’t take into account greenhouse gas problem, there is, for example, reason to go after the methane clathrates, but greenhouse gases give us every reason to leave them buried. If you artificially take part of reality off the table, you get the wrong answer.

    Paul K said, “What good does it do if disagreement over which reason is the best impedes action?

    As far as I know, you’re the only one who thinks this is an issue. Most people get the global warming threat. The ones who don’t are the ones who have ideological blinders on, and those people can probably never be reached anyway, at least until they are smacked on the side of the head hard by reality (Orwell put it better: “We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”) The challenge then is to prevent the ideologues from fooling the non-ideologues.

  21. Paul K says:

    Earl Killian,
    If most people get the global warming threat, why did the climate bill have only 38 votes in the Senate and why does a growing majority of Americans favor drilling?

  22. Earl Killian says:

    Paul K, the U.S. Senate is hardly a reflection of the American people. Pass public financing of elections and one-person-one-vote and it might do a little better at representing the people. (The people of Wyoming have 68,5 times the voting power in the Senate compared to Californians.)

  23. Earl Killian says:

    Paul K, your argument that we should fight fossil fuels without mention the reality of greenhouse gases is akin to saying we should have fought against tobacco without ever mentioning cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. It makes no sense to ignore something so critical to the issue.

  24. Paul K says:

    Earl Killian,
    We’ve had publicly financed presidential elections for some time. However, candidates of both parties decline the money, preferring traditional fundraising. There is no reason to believe congressional candidates wouldn’t do the same. I suppose you could try to make traditional fundraising illegal, but political contributions equal constitutionally protected free speech. You would have to throw out the first amendment while you’re getting rid of the Senate.

    The root cause of greenhouse gases is fossil fuel. That is why I recommend focusing on fossil fuel. Treat the disease, not the symptom.

  25. hapa says:

    If I could guarantee 80% replacement of fossil fuel use by 2050 if you never again spoke of global warming, would you do it?

    you think you can guarantee that 2050 is a safe finish line. already people are talking about 2030 as the finish line for most of fossil fuel emissions.

    what do you do, just sit around reading VC white papers?

  26. Paul K says:

    hapa,
    What is a VC white paper?
    I chose 2050 because I think it is doable by then. Do you have an answer to my hypothetical question?

  27. hapa says:

    no, you don’t understand. 2050 is too late. your guarantee is insufficient and i have to reject it on that ground. enjoy.

  28. hapa says:

    paul, honestly, we are really in trouble. maybe people don’t want to hear that and maybe if our response to it is as bad as it was with 9/11, no knowledge is good knowledge, but i think if we’re talking about this big chemistry experiment we’re running coming to a violent close, people deserve to at least have an informed vote over whether to expand the experiment to include as many countries as possible in the time we have left. people have the right to decide whether to go “all in” on what’s essentially a bluff.

    the planet literally does not care if we live or die. it’s just a rock. the biosphere is just a cloud. the oceans are puddles. there’s nothing in any of them that requires our presence or our participation. intelligence and society are another assay of organic tests in the tube.

    a person comes up to me and says, “get what you want by lying,” i say, “what will it cost the person i lie to.”

    “that’s their business,” says the voice of the last 30 years of american politics.

    and i think that voice, i think that voice has no place now. so i think, you go ahead, and you try to get us to 2030, so your miracles can happen, ok? and you go ahead and try in that time to keep up your own illusion, whatever it really is, and good luck to you.

  29. Paul K says:

    hapa,
    Good luck to you too.

  30. Paul,
    A VC white paper is a research piece written for/by a venture capital firm. A white paper usually contains either background research for a particular current investment or is a more speculative general piece about the future of a market segment. White papers are written by tech firms as well for the same purposes.

  31. Ronald says:

    Paul K.,

    I think you had the wrong totals on that senate vote, it was 48-38, 48 votes for the bill and 38 against. Given that there was no way that Pres. Bush would vote for it, some senators may have decided to not vote for it who were up for reelection in coal states, but would vote for it if it actually meant something. But some may have voted against it if it was to become law also.

    You keep saying that we should move to non-carbon energy anyway and just mentioning global warming gets in the way, but if we try to find ways to make non-carbon fuel energy cheaper, then people would get behind that. Would they really? So if the debate is about Global Warming and the destruction of our planet for the next 50 genrations, fossil fuel people, states, companies and politicians are going to be against finding fixes so that doesn’t occur. But if we say that we want to make non-carbon energy cheaper than fossil fuel energy by increased research and new favorable infrastructure, all those fossil fuel groups are not going to be working against that?

    Fossil fuel groups are listening to the debates!

    If you start coming out with a bill that increases research on ways to make non-carbon fuels cheaper than carbon fuels the fossil fuel groups will oppose that. They will not sit by and let their industry and way of life and personal wealth go away just because you want to make non-carbon energy cheaper.

    There were 48 senate votes in favor of a bill to increase the cost of carbon fuels tied to Global Warming Destruction. How many votes were there for a bill to increase research and infrastucture changes on non-carbon fueled energy so it would be cheaper than carbon fueled energy just because some people feel that would be a great idea, no threat of Global Warming involved? No bill? Zero support?

    Nobody goes thru major surgery unless there is a real need for it. (some cosmetic surgery aside) What is needed to save the next 50 generations from tragedy is the equivalent of a kidney transplant and just saying that
    it would be nice to have non-carbon energy cheaper than carbon energy is not going to fire up the base support for such an idea and you are still going to have carbon fuel energy opposition.

    What the Breakthrough Institute gets wrong is they think they can get enough support for more increased funding for research and non-carbon fueled energy without using the very real threat of Global Warming and they are wrong. Smart politics is not about breaking away from the most significant problem the planet has ever had and saying that’s not important, but we should do something that people would like to have, cheaper non-carbon fueled energy. Breakthrough Institute is about self promotion. Their stance on how groups who are trying to slow greenhouse gas release is misguided is widely quoted in conservative books, and then their claim that it is all about technology is picked up on for delaying, but not picked up on to then actually do anything about the problem.

    The needed effort to head off Global Warming is great. Don’t cut it off by claims that all we need to do is reduce the cost of non-carbon fueled energy and the world will be fine. That idea has opposition also. The way we got rid of smog in our cities was thru a law, not by making non-smog emitting engines cheaper than smog emitting engines. You’d still be working on the problem if you thought that would work.

  32. Paul K says:

    Michael Hoexter,
    Thanks for the definition. I don’t have the money to be a venture capitalist, but if I did, I’d invest in CSP.

    Ronald,
    48 – 38 was the vote on cloture. 10 Democratic Senators who voted for cloture publicly stated their opposition to the actual bill.

    I agree with much of your criticism of the Breakthrough Institute. I visited their website when they first popped up at climateprogress and it seemed to me their main interest is grabbing as much government R & D money as they can. Although I think Joe too narrowly defines the word breakthrough, I am in complete agreement with him that current and in the near pipeline technologies and efficiencies are sufficient.

    The one thing I think BI has right is that is more effective to lower the cost of deployment than to raise the price of carbon, a view I expressed here long before knowing BI even existed. It is not a panacea, just a better way to approach the problem. Raising the price of carbon to the high cost of alternatives could well mean the consumer can afford neither.Once they’re in place alternatives are very cost competitive. The very high cost of initial deployment is the roadblock. I have laid out on this thread a number of ways to reduce that cost. I have previously described a truly market based cap/trade system that would go a long way in reducing the cost of deployment. I am putting the final touches on a method of exerting downward price pressure through association of the people which is very exciting.

    Let’s talk about exhortation of catastrophe as a method of persuasion. The latest in climate science is that temperatures will remain relatively stable until perhaps 2015. Ocean temperatures are not rising, nor are sea levels (NASA is launching new satellites to more accurately measure sea levels so we’ll have better data soon). The hurricane warming connection has been broken. It is hard to sell catastrophe when not much is happening now. Maybe that’s not how it should be, but it is the way it is.

  33. Gary Herstein says:

    PaulK –

    Forming a grammatically correct sentence is not the same thing as performing the action said sentence nominally describes. Your statement is analogous to something like, “I can imagine a round-square and guarantee that it is pink.”

    In order for your claim to even be meaningful, much less possibly true, you would have to be in possession and control of every single variable to every relevant degree of possible influence. Unless you’re prepared to not only assert, but conclusively demonstrate, an especially close relationship with the Divinity, such an assumption is nonsense.

  34. Paul K says:

    Gary Herstein,
    Go to any AGW site including this one and you will read we must cut emissions by 80% by 2050 or some similar figure. They all think it can be done and so do I. I have laid out specific ways it can be done. The big difference is that I think the focus should be on replacing fossil fuel, the disease, rather than on cutting CO2, the symptom. You have answered my hypothetical. It is clear you would rather win an argument than reach a goal.

  35. bob tallon says:

    It’s not our choice to drill for more oil it is truly a corporate and banking decision. Government is the speaking voice and errand boy of these industries. The health of the planet earth always comes in second to economic considerations.I do not like it but please except this existing reality. Like a bunch of lemmings running for the cliffs we always follow the corporate advertising wisdom . It is good to know grass roots businesses and small companies are pushing toward more energy options,. Diversification of energy technologies,solar, wind , tidal hydro, clean coal, and bio fuels other than corn could generate easily 80 % of our needs in very near future. And also create large clean industries employing many people. Perhaps in as little as 20 years. Do not expect our federal government to do anything but hold this back. Nuclear still has a bad waste disposal problem but the corporate world would love these massive projects to go forward. The proof is in the pudding Germany is already 15 % solar, Brazil is energy independent, so there are folks out there that have already made tremendous progress.Our drug addiction on petrochemicals as our main energy option will end when corporate world wants it to and perhaps not a day before. Like an insidious incubus our politcal system is mainly filled with corprocons spewing corporate dogma, floundering in the money and expelling hubris that would sicken a sewer rat. Lets get out and kick some of these morons in the ass. If not for ourselve’s but for our children and grand children.