Speaking before a crowd at the University of Scranton, PA, Sunday afternoon, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gave himself a new title, “coal booster“:
My friends, you know what Senator Obama said about a year ago, he said he had not been a, quote, coal booster. My friends, I’ve been a coal booster and it’s going to create jobs, and we’re going to export coal to other countries and we are going to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. That’s going to help restore the economy of the great state of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
McCain is challenging the idea that fighting global warming will require real change in this nation’s coal industry. In fact, our coal-fired power plants, which produce about 49 percent of U.S. electricity, account for 83 percent of power-sector global warming emissions. As Al Gore has said, “When the use of oil and coal goes up, pollution goes up.”
When McCain was busy crafting his maverick stance on the climate crisis, he understood this too. On June 21, 2005, McCain said his global warming legislation would require “sacrifice“:
Does it involve some sacrifice on the part of the American people? Yes.
In an eloquent speech on the Senate floor, McCain went on to mock his critics:
When we talk about jobs, these Draconian estimates of lost jobs that they have hired some think tank to come up with, what about the jobs and the economic effect on the United States of America that is already taking place when we have four hurricanes in one season in Florida; when we have greater and more extreme climatic effects generated by greenhouse gas emissions? How much is it going to cost when the great barrier reef dies? The Australian Government has said that the great barrier reef will die by–I think the year is 2040. What happens then to the food chain? What is the cost then? [...]
This amendment, I am sure, will be attacked — thousands of jobs will be lost, we will find some obscure scientist, some will talk about the dangers of encouraging the use of nuclear power. The fact is, we are going to win on this issue. The reason we are going to win is because every single month there is another manifestation of the terrible effects of what climate change is doing to our Earth. The problem is how late will it be when we win?
During the 2005 debate, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) was one such critic: “It is my understanding that the amendment, according to Charles River Associates, which analyzed its provisions, would cause the loss of 24,000 to 47,000 Ohio jobs in 2010. … The McCain amendment will put coal out of business.” Three years later — after unprecedented wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts — McCain has abandoned his brave stand. Instead, with the help of those of the far right he once challenged, he is now putting polluters first.
,At a hearing on global warming on September 21, 2000, McCain told a Sierra Club representative, “I would not disagree with you that in a perfect world we would like to transition away from coal entirely.”