Posted: June 23, 2008 3:43 PM
McCain to Pitch Car Battery Prize as Obama Aims at Oil Speculators
Sen. John McCain is expected to propose his own sort of X Prize later Monday, namely a $300 million reward for the invention of a car battery that far outpaces those commercially available in cost, size, and power.
That equates to every American chipping in a buck — “a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency,” McCain said in remarks he will deliver at Fresno State University in California.
The battery should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs and have “the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee is also expected to propose stiffer fines for auto manufacturers who do not follow fleet-wide fuel efficiency standards, incentives to level the playing field for alcohol-based fuels and a sliding scale of tax credits to prompt manufacturers to create more efficient vehicles.
“For every automaker who can sell a zero-emissions car, we will commit a $5,000 tax credit for each and every customer who buys that car,” the text of McCain’s speech reads. “For other vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit.”
McCain’s remarks come a day after his presumptive Democratic opponent in the general election, Sen. Barack Obama, said he would strengthen government oversight of energy traders he blames in large part for the skyrocketing price of oil.
His campaign singled out the so-called “Enron loophole” for allowing speculators to run up the cost by operating outside federal regulation, the Associated Press reported. Oil traded above $137 a barrel on Monday — nearly twice its price last year.
“My plan fully closes the Enron loophole and restores commonsense regulation as part of my broader plan to ease the burden for struggling families today while investing in a better future,” Obama said in a campaign statement.
The Illinois senator said U.S. energy futures should not be traded in offshore, unregulated markets. He also called for international cooperation to regulate of oil futures markets and to have the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department investigate the oil markets.
Obama’s campaign blamed the Enron loophole on former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, a Republican who serves as McCain’s co-chairman and economic adviser. The Obama campaign accused Gramm of inserting a provision into a bill in late 2000 “at the behest of Enron lobbyists” that exempted some energy traders from government oversight.
Enron collapsed in scandal in 2001 when it was revealed that the Houston-based company vastly overstated its income.
McCain spokesman Tucker Bonds told the AP that the Arizona senator has supported efforts to close the loophole and noted the bill in question was signed into law by former President Clinton.
“How large a role speculative investment plays in pushing up oil and other commodity prices is not entirely clear,” the New York Times reported
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a former exec with Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs, said the real price of oil based on the laws of supply and demand should be $60-80 a barrel, not close to $140, according to Agence France-Presse.
The average gasoline cost in the U.S. has reached a record of more than $4 a gallon, boosting the price of virtually all goods and services, sending commuters flocking to public transportation and increasing tensions between the United States and Middle Eastern oil suppliers.
This week, Congress is expected to focus on energy speculation, with a Senate hearing slated for Tuesday and a House panel discussion on Thursday, according to CNN.