Specific policy positions
- Climate change
- Favors controlling greenhouse-gas emissions by capping U.S. global-warming pollutants and allowing companies to buy and sell emission "credits." Polluters would have until 2050 to cut their emissions by 60 percent below 1990 levels. Under his plan, credits would be distributed free of charge to polluting companies. McCain envisions eventually auctioning some credits and dedicating the money to new energy technologies.
- Nuclear power
- Seeks to build 45 additional nuclear power plants by 2030 and create an international repository for commercial radioactive waste. He says that the repository would eliminate the need to begin storing depleted nuclear fuel rods at Nevada's Yucca Mountain. In the past he has supported opening the Yucca facility and reprocessing commercial radioactive waste.
- Supports new oil and gas development off U.S. shores, but not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Also supports stricter regulation of the oil futures market and favors research into new technologies to lessen dependence on oil. He opposes mandating tougher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. Has called for suspending federal gasoline and diesel taxes, an action that he insists would ease summer fuel prices.
- Although he supports the development of new ethanol technologies that use switchgrass or other nonfood crops, he opposes federal subsidies for the fuel additive. In May, he was among the Republican senators who asked the Bush administration to waive federal mandates requiring petroleum refiners to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline.
- Public lands
- A longtime protector of the Grand Canyon, the senator from Arizona also backs legislation to restore the Florida Everglades. He opposes Clinton-era proposals to block development in 60 million acres of roadless federal lands.
- Transportation fuels
- Would create a $300 million prize for development of an advanced, low-cost battery technology for cars. Supports a $5,000 tax credit for people who buy cars that produce no greenhouse-gas emissions.
Climate change: Together with Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., championed groundbreaking legislation in 2003 to curb U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases.
2005 Energy Policy Act: Voted against the omnibus energy bill, opposing provisions that forced oil companies to use more ethanol and provided subsidies for alternative-fuel cars.
Oil drilling: Voted against oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge but favors allowing new drilling along U.S. coasts.
Renewable-electricity standards: Opposed legislation to require electric utilities to produce some of their power from renewable sources.
Grand Canyon: Championed legislation to reduce helicopter traffic over the Grand Canyon, which is in his home state, and has fought commercial development in the region.
Key Interest Groups
Republicans for Environmental Protection: The 13-year-old group, which promotes moderate environmental policies, is actively supporting McCain.
League of Conservation Voters: In 2004, the group backed McCain's re-election bid, but it has since parted company with the senator on many issues. According to the league, McCain has voted with environmentalists only 24 percent of the time during his 22 years in the Senate. In July, the group endorsed Obama.
Sierra Club: The group endorsed McCain's 2004 campaign for re-election but has criticized his support for nuclear power and new oil drilling off U.S. coasts. Club officials expect to endorse a presidential candidate in the next several weeks.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce: The chamber always carries weight in Washington debates on energy and the environment. Last year, the group raised its profile by creating the Institute for 21st Century Energy. The chamber does not endorse candidates but tends to agree with McCain's energy proposals.
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Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin is the McCain camp's guru on domestic policy, including energy and environmental issues. The campaign also has a stable of thoroughbred advisers to present the candidate's positions on these issues. They include former Sen. George Allen of Virginia; Robert McFarlane, who was national security adviser to President Reagan; and former CIA Director James Woolsey.
As domestic policy director, Holtz-Eakin has a portfolio that covers the entire range of economic and domestic policy issues, including immigration. Holtz-Eakin headed the Congressional Budget Office from 2003 to 2005 after serving as chief economist for the Council of Economic Advisers under President Bush. He attributes McCain's professed lack of knowledge about economic policy to the candidate's penchant for self-deprecation.
A former Virginia senator, Allen was once talked about as a possible presidential contender; this year, he's promoting McCain's energy policies. What McCain and his advisers have in common is a conviction that the nation's energy, environmental, and national security problems are linked and could be alleviated by limiting America's dependence on foreign oil.
McFarlane was national security adviser to President Reagan and currently serves as chairman of Energy and Communications Solutions, an international energy development firm. "It makes no sense for America to be funding both sides in the struggle against radical Islam or to remain vulnerable to the whims of unstable foreign sources of oil," he has said. "McCain understands this and that the means for relieving these anomalies are within our reach."
Woolsey is a Washington insider, military expert and techno-wonk. A self-proclaimed "Scoop Jackson Democrat," he worked for Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton in the Pentagon or as CIA director. In energy-policy stump speeches, Woolsey eagerly mentions that he drives a hybrid car and that his home is powered in part by solar panels.