How Green Is McCain?

Bradford Plumer tries to sort out McCain's record:

It wouldn't be wholly outlandish for McCain to follow in Schwarzenegger's steps: After all, during the early Bush years, the Arizona senator did more than just about anyone to put climate change on Congress's radar. On the other hand, his lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters is a dismal 24 percent, and he's generally more likely to side with miners, developers, and loggers than the EPA. So, while it's possible a McCain presidency could offer a Nixon-to-China moment on global warming, it's also possible McCain could say all the right things on the campaign trail and disappoint environmentalists once in office. [...]

Holtz-Eakin suggests that McCain's approach would essentially be a conservative one. Unlike Newt Gingrich or Rudy Giuliani--who insist that, in lieu of emission caps, Congress should just fund alternative-energy solutions-- McCain favors setting a cap on carbon and letting the market adjust on its own. He's generally disdainful of corporate handouts (save to the nuclear industry, that is)--a hostility that has bolstered many of his environmental positions over the years. Bob Witzeman, an Arizona conservationist who has canoed with McCain, recalls that, "whenever I'd bring up an environmental topic, like mining law or grazing, he'd become cautiously non-committal." But, Witzeman adds, on the subject of pork, McCain's eyes would widen--"it's his favorite topic." Indeed, one Senate staffer who has worked with McCain suggests that the senator's much-lauded opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge had as much to do with his contempt for Alaska Senator (and arch-porker) Ted Stevens as with any principled concern for nature. Likewise, when McCain helped filibuster the 2003 energy bill, he seemed to be as exercised about its earmarks for an energy-efficient Hooters restaurant in Louisiana as its irresponsible promotion of fossil fuels.