McCain, Obama fail on energy

I’d be curious to find out what McCain meant when he said energy conservative "is no longer just a moral luxury or a personal virtue," instead calling it a "critical national goal."  

Such charged language leaves much to be interpreted and even more to be feared, especially when these words are coming from an elected U.S. Senator who is currently vying for the top power-seat in the nation.  When elected officials start using words like "moral luxury" to describe consumer behavior and things they’d like to change, Americans should begin to worry about where the rhetoric ends and where the legislation begins.

With McCain, it’s a little bit harder to pin down where he stands on environmental issues.  Just the other day, McCain friend and colleague Sen. Joseph Lieberman told Environmental Capital that he was confident McCain would be voting for the Lieberman-Warner Climate Securities Act, which would essentially wreck the economy for the sake of the global environment.  Not to mention, cause the price of gas to sky rocket.

However recently, McCain is championing a lift on the U.S. moratorium on oil exploration on U.S. soil–something that should have been done long ago.  Breaking with Obama, who McCain has typically voted with on environmental issues, this is a new development in "McCain’s Secret Plan to End Environmental Problems."

Take for instance McCain’s latest ad:



What are his plans? Not sure.  It doesn’t say.  

Obama’s plans for solving environmental issues are rather unambiguous.  Windfall profit taxes for oil companies, more regulation and other government-heavy "solutions."  McCain has made no indications he supports a tax on the profits of oil companies, but where he stands on more government regulation is less clear, especially compared to his Democratic challenger.  

McCain’s mixed message of less government/more government on the environment is incredibly confusing.  While Obama, in the end, may do more damage to the environment and the economy through his energy plans, at least voters know what they’re getting.  McCain is standing with one foot in the closet and one foot out.   I think he has realized that he has outed himself as an envirowarrior armed to the teeth with legislative clout–something that does not appeal to a more conservative demographic who he has already struggled to woo–and wants to go back into hiding.

Despite the confusion, one thing is clear: Obama and McCain have failed repeatedly at offering to voters environment and energy policies that don’t involve more government, more regulation and more cost to taxpayers and consumers. 

The balance between the need for cheap energy and the desire to protect the environment is not incredibly difficult to achieve, as Libertarians have easily found.  Reducing government regulations and eliminating government subsidies of any form of energy allows companies to produce more energy at cheaper prices–where the market decides it should happen. 

As for environment, increasing the government’s power will only worsen the problem because the government remains unaccountable for the mistakes it makes and the waste it creates.  Americans need a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights in resources like land, water, air, and wildlife, so that they are able to handle pollution problems on their own through the courts and through consumer behavior. 

After all, environmental advocates and social pressure are the most effective means of changing public behavior–not more government.