The Candidates on Energy and Hybrids

The third and final Presidential debate last night allowed candidates Barack Obama and John McCain to once again outline their ideas about energy and transportation. While McCain underscored the need for increased drilling to decrease dependence on foreign oil, Obama talked about creating 5 million new jobs—more than twice the amount within the oil and gas industries today—by ramping up clean-energy initiatives and technology. As the election draws nearer, let’s take another look at the candidates’ proposals.

John McCain

  • Wants to expand domestic offshore drilling in order to reduce the need for foreign oil from the Middle East and Venezuela.
  • Favors construction of 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030. To handle the additional reactor waste, he wants to open the Yucca Mountain geological repository in Nevada, which many scientists argue is an unstable place for storage of such materials. McCain believes nuclear power is the best long-term solution to remedy global warming.
  • Plans to cut greenhouse gases to 66 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. This would be accomplished by utilizing a cap-and-trade system, which sets an aggressive cap on emissions, and mandates a high level of compliance from market participants.
  • Opposes a windfall profits tax on oil companies.
  • Calls for a $300 million prize to whoever can develop a battery that will “leapfrog” the abilities of current hybrid and electric cars.
  • Wants to allow a $5,000 tax credit for purchasing a zero-emissions vehicle. [Note: The $700 billion bailout bill signed by President Bush on Oct. 4, 2008, includes tax credits up to $7,500 for US buyers of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.]

Barack Obama

  • Is willing to explore offshore oil drilling options, but on a limited basis.
  • Want to create a $150 billion fund to be spent over the next 10 years on developing “climate friendly” technologies such as wind, solar, hybrids cars, and clean-coal.
  • Calls for cutting greenhouse gases to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. Like McCain, Obama supports a cap-and-trade system with aggressive caps.
  • Mandates utility companies to produce one-quarter of their total output using renewable energy by 2025. This could include wind, solar, or any other “climate friendly” measures.
  • Advocates a windfall profits tax on oil companies.
  • Wants to allow a $7,000 tax credit for purchasing an advance-technology vehicle. This would include hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric cars, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, among other potential developments.
  • Sets a goal of 1 million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015.

The ability of either candidate to deliver on energy promises remains to be seen. But at least we know where they stand. The next step, my friends, is up to you, your comments, and your vote.

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  • Samie

    Before all the wacky talking point crowds post their comments. We should all recognize that despite who you vote for they will be 100 percent better than the last administration on climate, and energy issues.

    What saddens me is why are we not spending more money for
    R&D on new nuclear generators, that use no or less water and new ways to recycle or dispose of nuclear waste.

    The other interesting thing is the reward for the science fair project of the great prize for a new battery. I can’t stand this idea but I will say maybe the 300 million should go directly into the market instead to do a better job of developing the next battery and actually mass producing it . I hope if McCain got elected he would commit to energy solutions (besides oil prod.)like he said he would do for military spending and vet benefits. Because what I fear is that there will be more constraints on spending for the next prez and all this could just become empty promises.

  • Eric

    McCain says he wants to pursue all energy types, but the only thing he talks about in any detail is oil and nuclear which leads me to believe he is mentioning the others mostly to score votes. Oil is a a small and temporary solution to our energy independence. And does nothing to address pollution. Nuclear is good only if no accidents happen, which the odds go up for happening the more reactors you add. Not to mention, no one wants them near where they live. If the primary focus is on renewables, like solar, wind and geothermal, we can be energy independent much faster than if we focus on oil. For these reasons I cannot vote for McCain. And God help us if he dies in office and you know who is running the show.

  • WompaStompa

    Obama is the only choice in this election if you care about the planet.

  • J

    I’m not sure why McCain keeps harping on nuclear energy as clean. Sticking nuclear waste in caves where it won’t degrade for a 1000 years isn’t clean. It’s just a short term solution until one of those barrels start leaking.

  • ohbuck9

    Am I the only one that heard McCain talk about recycling the nuclear waste?? Nuclear is a safe, reliable way to produce energy. I would love to see Solar become more widespread…but it is a few years from being economical…and hopefully that is all…it is a very liberal estimate

  • Mo Ron

    Obama is the only choice!

  • Charles

    I assume that McCain’s “recycling” was reprocessing the nuclear to get Pu. My understanding is that you can get another years fuel from four years of using U.

  • hybridman2

    Solar is not where it needs to be yet. Wind power either. We have resources available here to tap into enough oil to sustain us for 30-40 years. The problem is the EPA regs are so stringent that not one new refinery has been built in 30 years, so even if we process more oil (from shale and off shore), we still don’t have any more capability to process and refine it, which ultimately drives the price up.

    We need to immediately waive those asinine requirements for a set time like Congress has done in our past, to stabilize our economy. Build refineries and nuclear plants to help NOW. We cannot wait until the industry matures or we are sunk as a nation.

    In the meantime, money must be diligently focused on R and D into electric, solar, and wave tech as well as wind.

    Batteries AND electric motor design should be heavily funded as I believe that’s where our real payoff will end up.

    Processing ethanol from corn should stop- it’s a dead end.

    That’s my opinion.

  • Cal

    Obama is a national security risk. Because of his associations, he would not qualify for an FBI or CIA job. If he gets elected president, he would not be qualified to be his own body guard.
    Wake up people, we want the corruption out of Washington, not more of the same!

  • Eric

    You are obviously getting your news from right wing “journalists”. If there was a real credible issue, he would have been eaten alive in this election months ago. The American people aren’t buying the McCain campaign fearmongering, that is why McCain is losing by a significant margin. Stop wasting our time on such nonsense and discuss the actual issues if you want to talk politics.

  • ALI F


  • Cal

    Okay, I’ll try to use small words so you’ll understand. I am capable of managing my own money even if Obama doesn’t think so.
    Secondly, nuclear is viable and the waste can be neutralized with Hydrogen technologies. But I suppose all you rocket scientists already knew that.

  • steved28

    Sorry Cal, but Eric is correct. You are a typical McCain republican. You don’t focus on your candidate, you spend all your energy trying to rip the other guy. Usually scare tactics and lies. The American public is sick of the same tactics, and like it or not, that is why Obama will be the next pres.

    I’ve been a registered Republican since the mid eighties, but witnessing the George W scare tactic campaigns of the past, I’ve lost faith in the party. I changed my affiliation to independent this year, and will most likely vote for Obama unless something drastic happens in the next 3 weeks.

    You want scare tactics? Imagine McCain dying while in office…

  • sparky332

    I’m an “all of the above” on energy matters.

    That said, clean coal is way out there re: viability, so I assume they both are just pandering for votes.

    Now. McCain gets my vote re: nuclear. There is no shortage of nuclear options that vastly reduce the waste/storage/cost issues. Gen IV reactors consume 99% of the fuel energy and produce a fraction of the waste. Modular construction will reduce costs.

    Check out Tom Blees “Prescription for the Planet” or Joe Schuster’s “Beyond Fossil Fools”.

    Had the Integrated Fast Reactor program not been killed in the early 90s, we’d be building them today.

    Politics, not technology, has hog tied nuclear in the US. This MUST stop.

  • ohbuck9

    This is interesting…it is a real story that has not been disputed…worries me to say the least…

  • Boom Boom

    Why can’t John McCain’s supporters actually talk about the issues, rather than all of this character assassination an innuendo like the link above? McCain was supposed to be different than Bush, but the pro-McCain folks posting here take pages right out of Karl Rove’s book. Rove used those same tactics to imply McCain had an illegitimate child back in 1999. He lost to Bush because of it. It is sad that McCain lets the same tactics go forward within his own campaign.

  • joy

    both candidates has their own opinions on global warming and about hybrids, but obama’s proposal was way too better than mcains when it comes to this topic…

  • ohbuck9

    So the truth from that article shouldn’t matter? If you want to talk about issues I’m all for it, since you don’t think having links to terrorists counts.

    I don’t like Obama’s taxing of the wealthy idea. I assume the wealthy are selfish and want to make their money, like almost everyone else in the world. Assuming they want there money, when they are taxed heavily…will they take the loss themselves or will they cut jobs to cover the losses and not take a personal hit. Anyone who truly believes these companies/people are all of a sudden going to “see the light” and take the hit themselves are not being realistic. I really can’t see how his “re-distribution of wealth” is a good thing. In fact, I don’t like the idea one bit. Why should the people that are rich have to pay for the people who aren’t? I’m far from rich, and will be a teacher, so I will probably never be rich. I do not think that the rich should have to make up for what I do not get. Why should someone have to pay a higher percentage of taxes when they make more money? It is socialism. With Obama wanting to spend so much money we don’t have to create jobs and expand government…the government is already too big! I hate the idea of universal health care, I want the freedom of choice in my life when it does not harm another, not the freedom from choice.

  • Cal

    Given the state of our economy and the unrest in the world, does anyone really believe that the B.S. that we’re hearing from the candidates will actually come to fruition? They are both going to say whatever it takes to get into the office. The level of naivety in this country is most disturbing. What happened to the voice of reason? We all need to take responsibility for our own lives and actions and become more self sufficient. Expecting the government to take care of all of our problems is not only stupid, it’s ridiculous! Once again, wake up America !!!! Waiting for govt. incentives in order to take action is a joke.

    For those questioning my credibility. I drive a hybrid vehicle (self built), I am installing solar on my house, and I recycle everything possible. I don’t count on the government for my health insurance and I’m responsible for my actions and life, not anyone else. For all you left-wingers, Obama has less experience than Palin, yet she is only running for VP. For some reason, Obama has been given a pass for all his indiscretions. Things that would have prevented McCain from even getting the nomination are overlooked for Obama. At least McCain has his integrity intact.

  • DJB

    We have forgotten four candidates who are on enough ballots to win: Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader.

    Ralph Nader is the only candidate that has proposed shifting the tax burden in our society to the things we like the least (such as pollution). Economists agree that a carbon tax is the most efficient way to protect ourselves from the threats of smog and the climate crisis.

    While the dominant-party candidates propose toothless cap-and-trade, dangerous nuclear and intrinsically dirty coal, as “solutions” to our energy and environmental problems, Nader is proposing something that will work: the carbon tax, and a preference for solar/wind power.

  • Timothy J Bradley

    I thought it interesting that neither candidate stepped up to claim JFK’s “Profiles in Courage” award. All it would have taken would be this simple declaration: “As president I will make every effort to repeal the misguided “corn and soy-based ethanol” provisions of our existing energy policy”. Regrettably, neither has shown leadership on this issue, though both have reportedly hinted at opposition to corn and soy based ethnanol.

    Please correct me if I am wrong or otherwise not fully informed.

  • slim

    Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.