Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has been widely regaled as a “green” conservative for his plan to limit global warming pollution, today attacked President Obama’s clean energy plan as an “irresponsible, ill-conceived and distorted version of a cap-and-trade system.” Speaking at an energy forum convened by the Reform Institute, McCain reserved particular vitriol for Obama’s “proposal of auctioning 100 percent of the carbon credits“:
The president’s proposal of auctioning 100 percent of the carbon credits is bad economic policy that would cost businesses billions of dollars and allow for little-to-no transition into a low carbon system. I am a supporter of a strong cap-and-trade system, but I will not and cannot align myself with a giant government slush fund that will further burden our businesses and consumers.
In fact, full auctioning of carbon credits is needed to avoid polluter windfall profits. The principle is simple: Pollution permits have a dollar value, and giving them for free to covered emitters is equivalent to pork-barrel subsidies for the polluters. Economic modeling of cap-and-trade systems has found that permit giveaways do not reduce costs for consumers — they only increase polluter profits. McCain has claimed, “I oppose subsidies. Not just ethanol subsidies. Subsidies.” For some reason, this principle is being thrown out the window when it comes to subsidizing global warming pollution from the coal and oil industry.
Ironically, the Reform Institute — founded by McCain after his failed presidential bid in 2000 — is itself a slush fund, accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from corporations with business under McCain’s jurisdiction, employing McCain campaign staffers between his presidential runs.