Obama vs. McCain on the Environment

UPDATE (9-05-08): For a far more accurate description of McCain's current environmental views, click HERE.

UPDATE (8-29-08): This post was written many many months ago, before John McCain more clearly delineated his environmental policies. Thousands of people stumble on this post all the time, looking for insight into McCain's view on the environment. For quite a while, I have felt I was doing readers a disservice by leaving this post out there even though it doesn't reflect the current beliefs of John McCain. For that reason, I am now including links to several recent posts that will provide a more complete portrait of what John McCain will do, if elected President, with the environment...
  • To see a short description of McCain's VP, Gov. Sarah Palin's environmental views, click HERE.
  • To read about McCain's interest in drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, click HERE.
  • To read about McCain's misleading campaign ad on wind energy, click HERE.
  • To read about the sudden campaign cash influx McCain received from oil executives after his flip-flop on offshore oil drilling, click HERE.
  • To read about McCain's 0% rating by the League of Conservation Voters, click HERE.
Neither Obama nor McCain have secured the nomination for their parties in the 2008 Presidential Election. However, with both of them having so much success in February, I thought I would compare and contrast their environmental records and platforms. I think where they agree and disagree might surprise you.

Comparing Obama vs. McCain on the Environment...
  • In 2004, both Obama and McCain were endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters (a pro-environment organization) over their Senate race opponents.
  • Both Obama and McCain support a cap-and-trade system to phase out greenhouse gas emissions by factories.***
  • McCain and Obama oppose oil drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Both candidates support expansion of liquefied coal and ethanol energy technology.
  • Obama and McCain have supported expansion of nuclear power plants. Obama switched his position slightly between July 2007 and December 2007, explaining in December that until we can solve the storage and safety issues associated with nuclear power, we should not expand its use.
  • Both agree that humans contribute to global climate change.
  • McCain and Obama agree that the U.S. should have signed the Kyoto Treaty.
***The commenter below points out that McCain and Obama's cap-and-trade proposals are very different. McCain's does not include an auction component to sell credits to emitters, Obama's does. This is important because Obama's plan will create revenue to fund education and innovation in green technology.

Contrasting Obama vs. McCain on the Environment...
  • The League of Conservation Voters gave McCain's environmental record a score of 53% while Obama has scored in the high 90's.
  • McCain opposed Dick Cheney's 2005 Energy Bill that included huge tax giveaways to oil companies with record revenues. Obama supported the bill.
  • Obama supported a law that required 25% of U.S. energy come from renewable sources by 2025, McCain opposed a similar federal law.
  • McCain opposed the 2007 Energy Bill written by Democrats which mandated improved vehicle fuel economy standards by 2020, Obama supported the bill.
  • Obama did not join McCain and 44 other Republican and Democratic Senators in urging the Environmental Protection Agency to draft stricter Mercury restrictions.
You can read more about McCain's environmental views HERE

And you can see more on the records of both Obama and Hillary Clinton HERE


  1. THANK YOU for offering up these stats. I don't know if it's just me, as a relative newcomer to watching the political show, but I don't find the actual history of how candidates vote/act on various issues all that easy to find. The only thing I would like to see added, somewhere, is a commentary of rationale of why someone votes the way they do - is there a rider on a bill that dilutes or compromises it? So often there's a twist that makes a congressman appear to have a different agenda than they actually do.

    Thanks again.

  2. That's really misleading. McCain's "cap and trade" bill is totally different from Obama's. It isn't an auction, so it raises no revenue for the government, results in huge (billions of dollars) giveaways to the fossile fuel industry, and doesn't come anywhere near 80% emissions cuts by 2050. Obama's is an auction, will raise government revenue to actually implement a comprehensive climate plan, and will cut emissions by 80%.

    You seriously need to revise the list, you are glossing over dramatic differences on the single most important environmental legislation of our generation.

  3. Obama and McCain's greenhouse gas reduction proposals differ starkly, both in terms of the percentage reduction sought and in terms of the baseline year:

    Barak Obama – 80 percent reduction (1990 baseline) by 2050 (http://www.grist.org/candidate_chart_08.html)

    John McCain – 30 reduction (2004 baseline) by 2050 (http://www.grist.org/candidate_chart_08.html)

  4. I wonder how many energy saving devices both candidates have in their personal life. McCain who is from the land from the sun, should be fully solar, we are about 3/4 solar. He is older and established and in an area that could save tremendous amounts of energy. Obama, on the other hand is young, lives in the Chicago area, has just paid off his college loans, so I could forgive him. Does anyone know?

  5. What is this Tax and Trade thingy going to cost a family that is trying to make ends meet?

  6. I believe you are incorrect on McCain's support of drilling in Alaska. He is pro-drilling.

  7. Well, Obama is doing really well for himself for just having paid off his college loans. His house cost more than a millions dollars.

  8. Obama's house may have cost more than a million or millions of dollars as the post claims (unclear which from the wording), but Macain can't even remember how many housese he and his wife GOT.

  9. This cap and trade "thingy" shouldn't have a price tag for families trying to make ends meet or for anyone. It is about reducing our impact on the environment and helping maintain a habitable earth (although I seriously doubt that this will fix ALL our problems with regards to the environment. It shouldn't matter the cost. We should start thinking about the world as a whole and not just how this will effect us today in our lives.

  10. i have to agree with the last post on that it is about keeping the earth as habitable as possible, because why care about money if environmental issues could cause serious damage the more time passes without action. if anything they should force oil rigs to take on the Norwegian design where all greenhouse gases from the oil drilled are separated (seeing as its 9% of the total volume of the oil drilled) and pumped under the ocean floor where the atmospheric pressure keeps it there no problem.

  11. i dont get anythingg. i dont even know why i have to learn about Obama.

  12. Wow i hate ignorance. Families trying to make ends meet need to feed and house their children.

  13. if you hate ignorance then you are saying you hate life. life is full of ignorance and nothing can change that.just look at bush.

  14. In considering the two candidates environmental positions, Obama's seems consistent with environment-friendly Democratic perspectives, except that he veers to the right on Cheney's Energy Bill and stricter Mercury restrictions. McCain's positions seem very, very inconsistent with mainstream Republican views, but not to the extent of supporting the 2007 Energy Bill. What can I deduce from this? Obama is a peacemaker. As long as public, business, and congressional support exists for environmental action, he will lead. If genuine opposition forms, he won't. McCain, on the other hand, seems personally concerned about environmental issues. He will try to ram through as much environment action as possible in areas he is most concerned about, and ignore the rest. So for environmental politics, I think the choice depends on what the public and private appetite for environmental action really is. If it's robust, Obama is the best choice. If it isn't, McCain is better.

  15. We are far from seeing the public or private sectors of our economy become uninterested or unconcerned about the environment. Thus, in my opinion I think Obama would have a greater impact. Other than that, I must completely agree with your analysis.

  16. "Wow i hate ignorance. Families trying to make ends meet need to feed and house their children."
    True but they also need to make sure there will be an earth left for their children. And this is not ignorance; it's common sense.

  17. yo,yo,yo, im pro environment. your site is bangin. imma come here all the time. i hate those other getto bitchez.thankz.

  18. Being a smooth talker & good speaker is the only reason Obama is where he is today. Its obviously not his experience. He is in his first term as a Senator, and most of it has been touring around campaigning. When he is actually doing his job in the Senate, he has voted "Present" on more bills than he has voted "Yay" or "Nay".

    I'm not voting for a good speaker, I am voting for a good President. Obama talks the talk but as soon as he's in there, anything goes. McCain has a long history of keeping his word. Obama has publicly said many, many misleading statements. His promises mean nothing to me. Vote McCain.

  19. Yeah Matt,
    Obviously Obama is only where he is because he has mastered the English language. Being a professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago is only a job you can get from being suave.

  20. this didn't get any information on my report on obama...

  21. WOW I wonder who you like.
    Just because Obama is saying all of these great plans doesnt mean that he will even go through with them or that they will even work!
    He sucks! MCCAIN PALIN 08!

  22. You all are really fucking stupid! Obama is a great speaker, ya I'll give you that! But have you even been watching the debate? I mean seriously. McCain and Palin are going to ruin this damn world if they get in. I'm sure all of you who hate Obama have over $250,000 and want someone who has no clue what the hell he is even talking about to become president. It takes a good speaker plus a hell of a lot more to be the president of the United States and that is surely not what McCain is. McCain is saying what he has heard others say...he does not even know how to think for himself and the only reason you think he has a history of keeping his word is because it was someone else's and he took credit for it or you thought he did it! Obama is new yes, but that is what we need. We need to get away from the same Republican bullshit that we've had. You can vote McCain all you want...won't do ya any good! Retard