Will McCain Back Warming Bill?
By Juliet Eilperin
Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) comments about climate change Friday have sparked a flurry of speculation among national environmentalists, who are now optimistic the presumptive GOP nominee will vote next month for a bill limiting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
McCain didn't say for sure whether he would back the bill authored by
Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.), both of whom have campaigned actively for him on the trail. But he said they were coming closer to satisfying his concerns about the bill, which is slated for a vote in early June and does not boast the same generous subsidies for nuclear power as the bill McCain and Lieberman co-sponsored in the past.
"I'm pleased in negotiations and discussion with Senator Lieberman that there will be a far more important nuclear component of this legislation that's going to be coming to the floor," McCain said in a press conference at Jersey City's Liberty Science Center. "I hope that it will be passed and I hope that the entire Congress will join in supporting it and the president of the United States would sign it."
McCain has repeatedly pushed hard for nuclear power as one of the primary ways the U.S. can cut its greenhouse gas emissions and reduce its energy dependence on foreign countries. But several Senate Democrats, who back the idea of a mandatory cap on carbon emissions, oppose providing additional subsidies for building nuclear power plants.
McCain advocates cutting U.S. carbon emissions 60 percent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, while the Lieberman-Warner bill would cut them by nearly 70 percent by mid-century. Both Democratic Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) support the bill, though they advocate a more ambitious reduction goal of 80 percent by 2050.
The question of how drastically the U.S. should limit its carbon emissions does not appear to be a sticking point for McCain, and Lieberman said in an interview yesterday he believed his friend would back the bill once it reaches the floor next month.
"I'm confident that he is going to support the bill," Lieberman said, adding the two men had discussed the matter this morning, and their aides were continuing to work out details of the legislation's nuclear provision.
Environmental activists expressed mixed reactions to the idea that McCain's was on the verge of embracing the Senate's latest attempt to curb global warming pollution.
Jeremy Symons, National Wildlife Federation's global warming campaign executive director, said it could encourage other Republicans to come on board in the weeks to come.
"Support from Senator McCain is a big boost for the bill," he wrote in an e-mail. "It is time for congress to catch up to the presidential candidates, and they will get their chance soon."
However Daniel J. Weiss, who directs climate strategy for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, questioned whether the GOP nominee's support would come with too high a price.
"John McCain's reliance nuclear power to solve global warming would require billions of dollars in federal subsidies, millions of gallons of water, and 10 more Yucca Mountains to dispose of all the waste," Weiss wrote in an e-mail. "It is a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem."
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