McCain-Lieberman: A Regulatory Pandora’s Box

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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) recently compared his push for another vote on the Climate Stewardship Act (S. 139), which the Senate rejected 55 to 43 in November 2003, to his seven-year campaign finance “reform” crusade.  “It’s an old strategy of mine: Force votes on the issues,” he said. “Ultimately, we will win.”  Or, ultimately, he will lose.  It is far from certain that McCain will get a rematch on S. 139 in this Congress.  But in case he does, I tender the following observations.

Roadmap to Kyoto

The Climate Stewardship Act, co-sponsored with Sen. Joe Lieberman (DConn.), is at bottom a political roadmap back to the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations global warming treaty that the Senate preemptively rejected by a vote of 95-0 in July 1997.


As originally introduced in January 2003, McCain’s bill would have required the United States to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil energy use, in two stages: down to 2000 levels by 2010 (Phase I) and 1990 levels by 2016 (Phase II). Though not as restrictive as the U.S. Kyoto target—7 percent below 1990 levels during 2008-2012—Phase II was close enough for government work.  Too close, in fact, to have any chance of passing.


In an effort to woo the fence sitters, Sen. McCain, in October 2003, stripped Phase II from the bill. The Senate still rejected it by a vote of 55 to 43, but to McCain, that vote was only round one; and now, he is demanding a rematch.