McCain’s Record Of Opposition To Clean Energy

This week, the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the University of Las Vegas organized a nonpartisan national clean energy summit in Nevada with Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), former president Bill Clinton, conservative energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and “a parade of public and business leaders.” The summit concluded with a series of consensus recommendations. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has a disappointing record on the summit’s top recommendations for the federal government.

Here’s how McCain’s record stacks up against the top six recommendations:

#1. PROVIDE LONG-TERM TAX INCENTIVES for renewable energy production and energy efficiency, including clean renewable energy bonds. Modify other tax policies to reward clean energy investments.

McCain’s record: The renewable energy production tax credit has been key to the growth of the domestic renewable industry by supporting power companies, businesses, and individuals who employ wind, geothermal, solar, and other types of renewable energy. However, the tax credit has been allowed to expire three times in the past decade — in 2004, McCain introduced an amendment that would have eliminated the tax credit entirely. McCain’s continued opposition to the tax credit is putting the renewable electricity industry at risk again:


March 2006 (Vote 42): Voted against extension of tax credits. — March 2007 (Vote 98): Skipped vote to extend tax credits. — June 2007 (Vote 223): Skipped vote to extend tax credits. — December 2007 (Vote 416): Skipped vote to extend tax credits — extension failed by one vote. — February 2008 (Vote 8): Skipped vote to extend tax credits — extension failed by one vote.

#2. INITIATE ELECTRIFICATION of our entire transportation sector so it uses only clean domestic energy soon. Establish, enforce and update building code standards for energy efficiency in new and retrofitted buildings to save consumers money and reduce fossil fuel use. Provide incentives for efficiency related renovations. Reduce building energy use by 50% by 2030.

McCain’s record: McCain voted against the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which increased funding for building code enforcement and voluntary building efficiency programs. As McCain spokesman George Allen told the U.S. Energy Efficiency Forum on June 11, 2008, “John McCain does not wish to mandate any particular building standards for energy efficient homes or buildings.”

#3. PUT A PRICE ON CARBON POLLUTION, through a cap-and-trade program or other means.

McCain’s record: Since 2003, McCain has supported a cap-and-trade program to put a price on carbon pollution, although he has waffled on whether it would actually be mandatory, and his campaign has derided cap-and-trade programs as an “energy tax.” Furthermore, McCain has proposed a cap-and-trade system with insufficient targets, possible loopholes, and permit giveaways, which would force taxpayers to subsidize corporate pollution. McCain’s past cap-and-trade legislation has included major nuclear subsidies.

#4. MODERNIZE AND EXPAND the nation’s electrical grid to make it smart and more secure, and capable of transferring or storing clean renewable energy in combination with electric vehicles, while providing greater access to such resources in an environmentally responsible way.

McCain’s record: After Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act of 2005, “ordering utility companies to consider implementing advanced meters, programs to deploy smart electric meters have been put in place throughout the country.” McCain voted against the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 further “supports the modernization of the nation’s electricity transmission and distribution system in the form of a smart grid and the deployment of ‘smart’ metering and other technologies.” McCain skipped every vote on the legislation (Votes #208–226, 416, 425, 430).

#5 HELP FUND THE TRANSITION of states, like Nevada, or small countries around the world to be completely energy independent and carbon neutral to serve as an example of how these goals can be achieved.

McCain’s record: McCain has vigorously opposed the establishment of a national renewable electricity standard to require utilities to generate a certain portion of their electricity from wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy sources. Twenty six states have such requirements. The passage of a renewable energy standard in Colorado in 2004 was key to the new Vestas wind power plant in that state. Sen. McCain voted against renewable electricity every time:


2002 (Vote 50): Voted against 20 percent requirement. — 2002 (Vote 55): Voted to gut 10 percent requirement. — 2002 (Vote 59): Voted to gut 10 percent requirement. — 2005 (Vote 141): Voted against a renewable portfolio standard. — 2005 (Vote 363): Cast deciding vote to cut rural Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency program funding from $23 million to $3 million.

#6 ACT SWIFTLY TO INCREASE the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks, and increase funding for private-public partnerships to build a transportation sector that uses far less or no oil.

McCain’s record: McCain has long opposed tough increases in automotive fuel efficiency. McCain now does not support any increases in fuel efficiency above existing law. McCain instead relies on the advice of oil industry lobbyists like Nancy Pfotenhauer and Charlie Black, and supports a “drill here, drill now” oil industry agenda.