Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is heading to Texas today for a series of fundraisers with the Texas GOP elite in Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston. Wedged between the multiple money events will be a speech in Houston, which McCain has indicated will be on energy policy. Today, McCain told reporters that he will call for:
— Lifting the federal moratorium on off-shore drilling established by President George H.W. Bush,
— Providing incentives to states to commence off-shore drilling, and
— Suspending the gas tax.
This suite of proposals adds up to a big fat kiss to Big Oil and its conservative allies — at the expense of everyone else. Unrestrained fossil fuel use delivers obscene profits for Big Oil but is a threat to the planet. McCain’s strong talk on global warming is proving unserious — much as candidate Bush’s campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide in 2000 turned out to be false. At the very same press briefing, McCain backtracked from his vaunted mandatory system to reduce greenhouse gases.
Strapped for cash and surrounded by Big Oil lobbyists, McCain is now embracing Bush’s Exxon-Halliburton energy policy. Although a “megabucks” fundraiser with Midland Texas oilmen was postponed, $1.5 million in donations have already been pledged. Midland County GOP Chair Sue Brannon told the Midland Reporter-Telegram what will happen at the fundraiser: “When the 15 oilmen giving big time money meet with McCain, all we’ll ask is that he be fair.” The millions McCain is raising in Texas will be added to his impressive haul of oil industry cash this campaign season — 74 percent of his lifetime receipts:
|1990 to 2008 cycle (May), Center for Responsive Politics, compiled by Center for American Progress Action Fund.|
According to a Campaign Money Watch analysis of campaign finance data provided by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics Center, John McCain and his leadership committee have accepted at least $1,069,854 from the oil and gas industry since 1989. Despite his mediagenic but inconstant opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, McCain’s voting record on energy policy has been consistently friendly to Big Oil — and since his campaign for president began last year, he’s been steadfast:
McCAIN’S RECORD OF CODDLING BIG OIL.
— McCain Voted Against Reducing Dependence on Foreign Oil. In 2005, McCain voted against legislation calling on the President to submit a plan to reduce foreign petroleum imports by 40 percent. [Senate Roll Call Vote #140, 6/16/05; DNC 6/22/07]
— Candidate McCain’s “Zero” For Energy Future, Billions For Big Oil. Since launching his campaign for president in 2007, Sen. McCain has skipped out on every key environmental vote the Senate has considered, earning him a zero on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard this session. In one such instance, his absence killed the rollback of billions of dollars in oil subsidies for renewable energy investment. [LCV 2008]
— McCain’s Absence Allows GOP to Filibuster Oil-For-Renewables. By a roll call vote of 59-40 on December 13, 2007, Senate Democrats failed to muster the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster threatened by Republicans of compromise energy legislation with an oil-for-renewable tax package. The tax package rolled back $12.7 billion in tax breaks on the oil and gas industry to invest in renewable energy tax credits. Sen. John McCain, on the campaign trail, was the one senator not voting. [CQ 12/12/07] [Vote #425 12/13/07]
—McCain’s Tax Policies A Boon For Big Oil. Sen. McCain’s plan to cut the corporate tax rate to 25 percent is worth $1.2 billion a year to Exxon Mobil alone. In addition, his plan includes a massive new corporate tax shelter. His call for a gas tax suspension would funnel money — about $11 billion — to oil refiners and producers. [CAPAF 3/27/08, 4/18/08]
BIG OIL LOBBYISTS RUN McCAIN CAMPAIGN.
At least fourteen Big Oil lobbyists hold top positions in the McCain campaign, including his top adviser, Charlie Black.
— McCain’s Senior Adviser Lobbies For Foreign Oil Interests. Charlie Black (lobbying firm: BKSH), McCain’s senior campaign adviser, is a registered lobbyist for two Russian oil companies — Yukos Oil and Occidental International Corporation — and his lobbying firm was hired in 2005 by the China National Off-Shore Oil Corporation. [Roll Call 7/18/05, Senate Lobbying Disclosure Records]
— McCain’s Campaign Liaison to Congress a Million-Dollar Big-Oil Lobbyist. John Green (Ogilvy Government Relations) — the “full-time liaison between McCain’s presidential campaign and Republicans in the House and the Senate” — has made over $7.6 million dollars since 1999 lobbying for petro-industry giants such as Amerada-Hess, Chevron Texaco, the American Petroleum Institute, Reliant Energy, PJM Interconnection and First Energy. [Politico 3/4/08, Senate Lobbying Disclosure Records]
— Fossil Fuel Lobbyists Everywhere in the McCain Campaign. Frank Donatelli, McCain’s RNC liaison to the Republican Party, has lobbied for ExxonMobil, Dominion, and Eastman Chemical. Jerry Kilgore, co-chairman of McCain’s Virginia campaign, has lobbied for Shell Oil and coal company Alpha Natural Resources. Nancy Pfotenhauer, a policy adviser and spokeswoman, has lobbied for Koch Industries. [Washington Post 3/12/08, O’Dwyer’s 8/9/06, Media Matters 2/26/08, Senate Lobbying Disclosure Records]
UPDATE: At Climate Progress, Joe Romm suggests questions for reporters to ask McCain. Confused, Marc Ambinder writes, “I am NOT an expert here; maybe I’m missing something, so feel free to read me in, as they say. But hasn’t McCain already endorsed mandatory emissions caps?”
At Liberal Oasis Bill Scher explains: “He wants to tell moderates that he has a serious plan for our government to act against global warming. And he wants to tell conservatives that no government action will be involved. It can’t be done.”
According to the Politico‘s Jonathan Martin:
The McCain campaign called to clarify his remarks. “John McCain was correctly reflecting his position, he just inadvertently said the word ‘cap’ instead of ‘target,'” said spokesman Tucker Bounds.
Today’s comment was a response to a question about mandatory “targets” for renewable energy — McCain believes that a cap-and-trade system provides enough market incentive for investment in renewables. If that’s the case (and many environmentalists would disagree), then mandatory targets wouldn’t be necessary.