Monday, July 26, 2010

The GOP and Climate Change

It may seem like the distant past. But only two years ago, John McCain, then presumptive Republican nominee for the presidency, proposed cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change. Specifically, he called for going back to 1990 emission levels by 2020, and achieving 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

That was then, this is now, and McCain is in the midst of a primary fight against a hard right opponent. Matt Yglesias calls them the
"the mysterious vanishing Republican cap-and-trade supporters." Yes there are some Democrats who represent coal or oil states and have been reluctant to support acting on climate change, and I imagined that it would be necessary to throw a few billion dollars for "clean coal" technology their way to keep them happy. But after Lindsay Graham abandoned the effort to control greenhouse gas emissions, not a single Republican senator was willing to even discuss action on global warming.

Ironies abound. A century ago, Theodore Roosevelt was our first environmental president. Russ Peterson was a Republican when he pushed through the Coastal Zone Act. The cap and trade approach
was developed under the first President Bush to successfully reduce SO2 emissions. Unfortunately, the GOP is now the party of obstruction when it comes to protecting the planet.


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