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McCain and Obama Tout Differing Energy Plans

Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are honing their stances on climate and energy policy, focusing on issues like the federal gas tax and offshore drilling. Advisers for each campaign examine the energy policy debate.

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    With gas prices up more than a dollar since this time last year, solving the country's energy needs has become a hot topic on the presidential campaign.

    One of the sharpest differences is over off-shore drilling, the issue President Bush waded into today.

    Yesterday, John McCain said he favored lifting a 26-year-old federal ban on off-shore drilling in the U.S.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: We have proven oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States, but a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. And I believe it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use.


    Barack Obama responded quickly, noting that the Arizona senator had supported the drilling ban when he ran for president eight years ago.

    SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: This is yet another reversal by John McCain, in terms of his earlier positions. And I think we could set up an interesting debate between John McCain 2000 and John McCain 2008.

    It seems like a classic Washington political solution, which is to go out there and make a statement without any clear evidence that this would result in strengthening the U.S. economy or providing relief to consumers.


    The ban on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf was first enacted by Congress in 1982. It protects nearly all of the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines and parts of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Yesterday, McCain sought to allay concerns that opening the shelf to drilling would damage the environment and tourism industries of some states.


    We can do this in ways that are consistent with sensible standards of environmental protection. And in states that choose to permit exploration, there must be an appropriate sharing of benefits between federal and state governments.

    But as a matter of fairness to the American people and a matter of duty for our government, we must deal with the here and now and assure affordable fuel for America by increasing domestic production.


    In recent weeks, the candidates have had several other sharp disagreements, over a summer holiday from the federal gas tax — McCain is for it, Obama opposed — whether to tax the windfall profits of oil companies — Obama has pushed this, McCain is opposed — and subsidizing corn-based ethanol production — Obama supports this, McCain is against. On nuclear power, McCain supports subsidies for new plants; Obama has said it can be part of the overall energy mix.

    Obama spoke about his approach on Monday in Michigan.


    We will invest in research and development of every form of alternative energy — solar, wind, and biofuels — as well as technologies that can make coal burn cleanly and nuclear power safe.

    We will provide incentives to businesses and consumers to save energy and make buildings more efficient. That's how we're going to create jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. That's how we're going to win back control of our destiny from oil-rich dictators.


    With surveys showing nearly 80 percent of Americans saying they're being financially affected by rising fuel prices, the issue is likely to remain a focus of the campaign.

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