Driving around Virginia this afternoon, I caught Rush Limbaugh on a tear about John McCain's refusal to endorse drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. McCain, in a press conference, just would not change his mind, but he offered a carrot: he wants to lift the federal moratorium on states exploring for oil off-shore and even incentivize them to do so. There are cavets to the carrot; this would do nothing to help bring down gas prices in the short term, and McCain, by opposing various drilling proposals off states like Florida and California has already taken several big states out of the equation.

Anyway, McCain plans to spend the next several weeks on the energy crisis. I did catch something interesting. Asked about mandatory emissions caps in Europe, he demurred, saying that "I would not impose a mandatory cap at this time." He emphasized "at this time" a little bit. Is there a big difference between "cap and trade" and a mandatory cap? Europe's cap and trade system didn't work very well (emissions rose because too many credits were handed out), and the "cap" across the pond is mandatory, Just like the one McCain and Joe Lieberman proposed. I am NOT an expert here; maybe I'm missing something, so feel free to read me in, as they say. But hasn't McCain already endorsed mandatory emissions caps?

Update: real environmental policy people see the same thing and put it much better than I ever could.

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