Let’s start by clearing something up: the Republican Party is not anti-environmental. The environment isn’t an issue you can be for or against; this is an issue which both parties care passionately about. John McCain cares deeply about the environment and, in the tradition of President Teddy Roosevelt, a fellow Republican, he is committed to protecting our environment.

The first aspect of McCain’s environmental plan is to fight climate change by decreasing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. McCain has been a leader in finding ways to address climate change. To accomplish this goal, he has proposed a market-based cap-and-trade system as well as federally mandated vehicle emissions standards. The cap-and-trade system distributes permits equal to the cap on greenhouse gas emissions and allows companies to sell these permits on the open market if they cut their emissions below those levels. Not only does this program gradually reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it also encourages companies to develop new environmentally friendly technology by rewarding companies that reduce their emissions.

Furthermore, McCain has unveiled a timetable for reducing emissions with the goal of having 2005 greenhouse gas emission levels fall 66 percent by 2050. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an important first step toward fighting climate change and protecting our environment.

Energy is an important topic that comes up when discussing the environment. John McCain is committed to developing clean alternative energy to help ease our reliance on carbon-based sources that harm the environment. This includes investing in research and development for clean coal technology, plug-in and hybrid cars and clean energy sources like nuclear, wind, solar and hydropower. By encouraging and developing these clean energy sources, America will become less dependent on carbon-based fuel sources and thus reduce carbon emissions.

Because these new energy sources will take time to develop, the United States needs immediate solutions to address the high gas prices that affect every American. We must address both supply and demand.

On the supply side, we need to increase our supply of oil, which can be accomplished by drilling in the coastal Outer Continental Shelf. Drilling in this area will lower gas prices by increasing supply and decrease our dependence on foreign oil, which funnels billions of dollars to nations that don’t support our international and domestic political and economic interests. Drilling is only a temporary solution designed to hold us over as new technology becomes available. Let’s face it: most of us don’t drive hybrids or cars fueled by natural gas. Until these cars become more accessible and mainstream, there needs to be a way to provide cheaper fuel sources. Drilling provides this solution.

To address demand, McCain will continue to invest resources and provide tax breaks for companies that research and develop electric cars and other fuel sources, as well as a $5,000 tax credit to anyone who buys a zero-carbon-emission car. This two-pronged approach will both lower gas prices in the short term, while preparing us for the long-term goal of using new technology for energy and transportation.

Energy efficiency and environmental protection are two of the biggest issues facing our generation. McCain’s leadership and experience in this field is essential to effectively addressing these issues. John McCain’s plan offers real solutions to protecting the environment by addressing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, while also encouraging the development of clean, alternative energy for the future.

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