Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) aspires to be the Energy Rationing President, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) apparently wants to help him attain that dubious distinction.

McCain, who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, held a hearing this week on legislation he and Lieberman are co-sponsoring to force major energy, manufacturing, and transportation companies to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide to year 2000 levels by 2010 and 1990 levels by 2016.

Although the McCain-Lieberman CO2 reduction targets are not as draconian as those stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol (7 percent below 1990 levels during the five-year averaging period, 2008-2012), it’s close enough for government work. Moreover, once federal agencies get a green light to regulate CO2, we can be sure climate alarmists like Kyoto Joe Lieberman will return to the charge, demanding ever more stringent controls.

Why is this a prescription for energy rationing? CO2 is the inescapable byproduct of the hydrocarbon fuels that supply 70 percent of U.S. electricity and 84 percent of all U.S. energy. There is no device that can be bolted onto a car engine, a steel mill, or a power plant that can scrub CO2 out of the exhaust stream. Thus, the only way to meet a mandatory CO2 reduction target or “cap” is to use less of the affordable, plentiful, increasingly safe and clean hydrocarbons. CO2 controls are just another name for energy rationing –