Conservatives Can’t Cap Caps

The maverick image of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has taken a beating, thanks to his support for escalating our military involvement in Iraq, his demonstrably false comments about the security of Baghdad, and a myriad of flip-flops.

But he is clinging to one maverick remnant: his support for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. In a speech today, he renewed that support, calling global warming “a serious and urgent economic, environmental and national security challenge”.

Coupled with last week’s move by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to propose such a cap on power plants, conservatives are finding it difficult to forge a united front to oppose emissions caps.

As noted last week, this bipartisan support for caps doesn’t mean all the devils in the details have been ironed out and strong legislation is around the corner.

For example, Alexander couldn’t get a Democratic co-sponsor on his bill because, as reported in CQ Today (subscription required), his “cap and trade” proposal would distribute pollution allowances in such a way that would “make it easier and cheaper for coal-fired plants to cover their current pollution.”

Nevertheless there is a growing recognition that without a cap on emissions, or otherwise putting a price tag on carbon pollution, you’re not seriously addressing the crisis.


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