John McCainJohn McCain

Sen. John McCain was, of course, one of the earliest congressional supporters of cap-and-trade, cosponsoring the first two pieces of climate legislation to come to the floor of the Senate in 2003 and 2005. During his campaign for president last year, he regularly touted his support for climate action.

But McCain did not explicitly back the climate bill that the Senate debated last year, citing a desire for more support for nuclear power, and he wasn’t around when the chamber voted on whether to move forward with the bill.

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Now that the guy who beat him in the race for the White House is pushing to get climate legislation passed, McCain is being far less supportive.

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At an energy summit in April, McCain railed against Obama’s plan to fight greenhouse-gas emissions, calling it “irresponsible, ill-conceived.” “What the Obama administration has proposed is not cap-and-trade,” he said. “It’s cap-and-tax.” McCain’s main complaint was that Obama wanted to auction off all pollution permits; McCain, in contrast, called for the vast majority of permits to be distributed free of charge to emitters to help them transition to a low-carbon economy.

But while McCain didn’t like Obama’s preferred approach, the climate bill the House passed in June should be more to his liking — it would give away the majority of permits.

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McCain recently told Roll Call that he is working on climate change legislation with Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) once again. “I have not lost my zeal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions,” he said. Yet he doesn’t seem to want to work with the Democratic majority. “I don’t think [Democratic leaders] have any Republicans” on board with their climate plans, he added.

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