mcquirrell.jpgWell, it wasn’t like we couldn’t see this coming:

The Bush administration has decided not to take any new steps to regulate greenhouse gas emissions before the president leaves office, despite pressure from the Supreme Court and broad accord among senior federal officials that new regulation is appropriate now.

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to announce today that it will seek months of further public comment on the threat posed by global warming to human health and welfare — a matter that federal climate experts and international scientists have repeatedly said should be urgently addressed.

Yeah, we saw this coming as recently as this past week:

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

Bush has insisted on doing nothing to deal with global climate change throughout his administration, and he is in fact quite proud of that non-accomplishment. After all, it’s the apotheosis of conservative drown-the-government-baby-in-the-bathtub ideology; this is what happens when your policy is being determined by Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney.

So John McCain will have to forgive us if we start chortling low and mordant when he starts nattering about how he wants to do something about global warming, as he did a couple of months ago:

Republican John McCain, reaching out to both independents and green-minded social conservatives, argues that global warming is undeniable and the country must take steps to bring it under control while adhering to free-market principles.

In remarks prepared for delivery Monday at a Portland, Ore., wind turbine manufacturer, the presidential contender says expanded nuclear power must be considered to reduce carbon-fuel emissions. He also sets a goal that by 2050, the country will reduce carbon emissions to a level 60 percent below that emitted in 1990.

Right. As Joseph Romm at Salon observes, McCain’s energy/climate solution is one sure to warm the cockles of even Limbaugh’s dessicated simulacrum of a right-wing heart: build more nuclear plants!

The only technological solution to global warming that McCain consistently advocates is nuclear power. In his signature environmental legislation, the 2007 Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, written with Joe Lieberman, McCain wants to devote a remarkable $3.7 billion in federal subsidies to nuclear power plants. According to an analysis by U.S. PIRG, a federation of public interest groups, the money would go for "engineering and design costs, loans and loan guarantees for building three new plants, and direct financial awards for new projects."

Yet when Grist asked McCain, "What’s your position on subsidies for green technologies like wind and solar?" he said:

"I’m not one who believes that we need to subsidize things. The wind industry is doing fine, the solar industry is doing fine. In the ’70s, we gave too many subsidies and too much help, and we had substandard products sold to the American people, which then made them disenchanted with solar for a long time."

Incredible. Nuclear power, a mature technology that provides 20 percent of U.S. electricity, must be heavily subsidized — even after more than $66 billion in federal subsidies since World War II (five times what was spent on renewable and eight times what was spent on efficiency, according to the Congressional Research Service). But subsidize solar photovoltaics, a rapidly evolving technology that comprises 0.1 percent of U.S. electricity? No, we can’t help them.

And will building more nukes solve the problem? Er, well, no …

Let’s say that McCain’s policy focuses on building nuclear plants, not efficiency, and somehow we build 100 new nuclear power plants, plus replacements for existing plants, by 2050. Those nuclear power plants would still deliver under 10 percent of the total energy used by the country. What are the chances of building 200 nuclear power plants over the next four decades in this country? Not bloody high. How about building five times that number worldwide, as would be needed for nuclear to comprise even 10 percent of the global GHG solution. Not gonna happen. We will no doubt build some new nuclear plants — as will the world — but it is no silver bullet, and cannot hope to make the same contribution that energy efficiency can at one-quarter the price and with no long-term waste or proliferation concerns.

As Adam Siegel noted at the time, McCain’s policies are "100% recycled Bush". And we’ve just seen, once again, what that means. It’s the Republican approach to governance: Fuck the public, as often and regularly as possible. And enjoy yourself while doing it.

David Neiwert

David Neiwert

David Neiwert is the managing editor of Firedoglake. He's a freelance journalist based in Seattle and the author/editor of the blog Orcinus. He also is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press). His reportage for on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000.