Schwarzenegger to appear with McCain tomorrow

The California Republican Party says Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will join presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain for a discussion on energy efficiency and conservation tomorrow morning in Santa Barbara, along with other panelists including former CIA director James Woolsey; Mike Feeney, Executive Director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County; and Matt Tirrell, a UC-Santa Barbara professor and founder of the Institute of Energy Efficiency.

Off all the issues and all the venues where Schwarzenegger could stump with McCain, this seems an odd choice: They’ve just recently had a big public disagreement on whether to lift the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling, a proposal supported by McCain and President Bush but opposed by Schwarzenegger.

Democrats are seizing the opportunity. California Democratic Party chairman Art Torres; U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; and Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, held a prophylactic press teleconference this afternoon noting that Santa Barbara in 1969 was the site of one of the nation’s worst oil spills: an oil platform five miles offshore caused three million gallons of oil to mar 35 miles of coastline and kill thousands of birds, seals, dolphins and other animals. “John McCain has tried to portray himself as an environmentalist this election, but his proposals make it clear McCain offers more of the same failed energy policy and skyrocketing gas prices American families have suffered from under President Bush,” the California Democratic Party’s news release said.

Or, as Capps said last week when McCain and Bush called for lifting the moratorium:

“I find it disappointing but not exactly surprising that Senator McCain is now borrowing a page from the Bush-Cheney energy playbook. Oddly, Senator McCain was actually for the offshore drilling ban before he was against it. He has apparently abandoned his earlier position in an effort to pander to oil companies and roll out another political gimmick like his much ridiculed proposal for a ‘gas-tax holiday’.

“Senator McCain has missed an opportunity to push for real solutions to our energy needs such as enhanced efficiency and alternative fuel sources. Efficiency measures are the fastest, easiest way to lower gas prices and encourage energy self sufficiency, and we have to develop alternatives to fossil fuels. Despite the fantasy being spun by President Bush and Senator McCain, we simply can’t drill our way to energy independence when we have only 3% of world resources but make up 25% of world demand. As evidence of the futility of this way of thinking, in the last 8 years the Bush Administration has opened huge swaths of public lands to drilling already and dramatically increased the amount of drilling on public lands yet oil prices have continued to rapidly rise. Now the oil companies are sitting on nearly 70 million acres of public lands where they could be, but are not, producing already. One of the results of this dead-end strategy is today’s $4 a gallon gasoline.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.