Ethanol -- Tracking the Presidential Candidates: John McCain

by: Konrad Imielinski

Recently, I analyzed Hillary Clinton’s position on ethanol. Today I will analyze fellow prospective presidential candidate John McCain.

Senator John McCain in 2000 publicly became an avid opponent of ethanol. During his 2000 presidential campaign, he skeptically emphasized that “ethanol is not worth it. It does not help the consumer.” During the primaries, he gave a speech in Iowa, where he said “ethanol subsidies should be phased out, and everybody here on this stage, if it wasn’t for the fact that Iowa is the first caucus state, it would share my view that we don’t need ethanol subsidies. It doesn’t help anybody.” He was able to maintain this anti-ethanol demeanor through 2005 as documented by his voting record:

  • McCain voted NO for the Energy Policy Act of 2005 -- To ensure jobs for our future with secure, affordable, and reliable energy. 6/28/2005
  • McCain voted NO for the Environmental Effects Caused by Ethanol Amendment -- To ensure that ethanol is treated like all other motor vehicle fuels and that taxpayers and local governments do not have to pay for environmental damage caused by ethanol. 6/14/2005
  • McCain voted NO for the Energy Omnibus Bill -- To enhance energy conservation and research and development, to provide for security and diversity in the energy supply for the American people, and for other purposes. 07/31/2003. McCain even wrote a long letter to President Bush explaining why he thinks ethanol is not a viable solution.

McCain then changed his position completely in 2006. When giving a speech in Iowa, the same state which he publicly stated his skepticism in 2000, he said “I support ethanol and I think it is vital, a vital alternative energy source not only because of our dependency on foreign oil but its greenhouse gas reduction effects.” His recent support, though, has only been verbal, which, in juxtaposition to Clinton’s support, looks less appealing. Clinton has at least showed some active effort in advocating ethanol through proposing the “Strategic Energy Fund.” McCain has done nothing of such.

Actions do speak louder than words Mr.Senator. The question though is (same for Hillary): Has he really become pro-ethanol after all these years? Or is this just a quick scheme to garner more votes?