NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 10, 2008

How do Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) differ on energy and the environment?  The National Journal compared and contrasted the two presidential candidates.  Below is a summary of McCain's positions on energy and the environment.

Climate change:

  • McCain favors controlling greenhouse-gas emissions by capping U.S. global-warming pollutants and allowing companies to buy and sell emission "credits."
  • Polluters would have until 2050 to cut their emissions by 60 percent below 1990 levels.
  • Under his plan, credits would be distributed free of charge to polluting companies.
  • He envisions eventually auctioning some credits and dedicating the money to new energy technologies.

Nuclear power:

  • McCain seeks to build 45 additional nuclear power plants by 2030.
  • He would create an international repository for commercial radioactive waste that would eliminate the need to begin storing depleted nuclear fuel rods at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.


  • McCain supports new oil and gas development off U.S. shores, but not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and stricter regulation of the oil futures market and favors research into new technologies to lessen dependence on oil.
  • He opposes mandating tougher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and has called for suspending federal gasoline and diesel taxes, which he insists would ease summer fuel prices.


  • McCain supports the development of new ethanol technologies that use switchgrass or other nonfood crops; he opposes federal subsidies for the fuel additive.
  • He asked the Bush administration to waive federal mandates requiring petroleum refiners to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline.

Public lands:

  • McCain backs legislation to restore the Florida Everglades.
  • He opposes Clinton-era proposals to block development in 60 million acres of roadless federal lands.

Source: "McCain on Energy and the Environment," in "Where They Stand," National Journal, August 30, 2008.


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