Saturday, June 28, 2008

View from Germany: 'McCain Sides with Big Oil'

"An Environmental Flip-Flop." Spiegel story here.

A heated debate has erupted in the United States over oil drilling in coastal waters and Alaska. To the delight of business and the chagrin of environmentalists, President Bush and candidate John McCain are pushing to have a 26-year-old ban lifted -- and fallaciously promising that the move would lower energy and gasoline prices.

John McCain has discovered the environment. The Republican candidate for president is suddenly a friend of the environment and a proponent of climate protection. Donning his new green mantle, he has taken to tramping through giant rainforests in the northwestern United States, inspecting wind farms and portraying himself as one of the first politicians to have "sounded the alarm about global warming."

Hardly a day goes by without McCain proclaiming some new idea to protect the environment, from strict greenhouse gas emission limits to new automobile technologies. From one day to the next, he touts the benefits of nuclear energy, wind energy, solar cells, biodiesel and even coal. At times he lumps everything together, as he did recently when he rattled off a motley staccato of proposals as part of his "great national campaign to achieve energy security for America."

But with his latest idea, McCain is hoping to reduce his opponent Barack Obama's lead in the polls. It amounts to a single word: oil.

Or rather: more oil, and not just from the Middle East, but also from domestic production.

To achieve this new goal, McCain wants to lift a 26-year-old ban that protects the continental shelf off the US coastline against oil exploration. According to McCain: "We have enormous energy reserves of our own. And we are gaining the means to use these resources in cleaner, more responsible ways."

It sounds logical and consistent enough at first glance, but in truth it is an about-face fraught with consequences, because it completely thwarts McCain's new eco-offensive. . . .

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