McCain Takes on Climate

Article excerpt

Byline: David Steves The Register-Guard

PORTLAND - John McCain chose the Pacific Northwest to break with President Bush over climate change.

The Republicans' presumptive presidential nominee vowed to set limits on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, offsetting the regulatory burden through government incentives and by letting power plants and other polluters comply with emissions limits through a "cap and trade" scheme.

McCain said his approach would let the marketplace decide what mix of clean energy - from wind and solar to nuclear power - should replace carbon-emitting plants.

McCain spoke to a small gathering of supporters and employees at Danish wind turbine company Vestas' North American headquarters near Portland International Airport.

Jeff Sadosky, a spokesman for the candidate, said McCain chose this backdrop for his climate-change speech because Oregon is a state with a high percentage of independent voters and a reputation for weighing environmental issues when sizing up candidates.

McCain spoke one week and a day before Oregonians vote in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. But his speech had little to do with the upcoming vote. The presumptive Republican nominee, McCain isn't trying to woo only members of his own party. And his speech made no mention of Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama or Obama's intraparty rival, Hillary Clinton.

More than anyone, it was a fellow Republican - President Bush - that McCain was most trying to differentiate himself from on climate change.

The Arizona senator got in a dig against the president by promising not to "shirk the mantle of leadership" on international efforts such as the Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse gases that cause climate change - for which Bush has refused U.S. ratification.

McCain's differences with Bush and other conservatives in his party resounded throughout the speech. In his first term, Bush questioned whether human activity had contributed to global warming. Throughout his administration the president has refused to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

McCain credited his first-hand look at vanishing glaciers in Norway and Alaska and scientific research for convincing him that "we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters, and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring.

"We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great," McCain said. …