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IN THEIR OWN WORDS: John McCain & Barack Obama on the energy crisis

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a special series of stories focusing on the election that Baptist Press will run between now and Nov. 4. Stories will run on Wednesdays and Fridays.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–This is the fourth in a series of stories focusing on one specific national issue and detailing where the two major presidential candidates stand. Called “In Their Own Words,” the stories avoid commentary and instead present the candidates’ views as they have stated them in the past — either in interviews, speeches, debates or on their campaign websites.

Baptist Press in recent weeks has spotlighted the issues of abortion, Iraq and the Supreme Court. Today, BP takes a look at the candidates’ positions on the energy crisis. Other future topics in the two-month-long series include the definition of marriage and gay rights, Darfur, immigration and taxes.


— What McCain says about the current energy crisis: “The rising price of oil has brought hardship to our country, and threatens to bring much more. Gasoline at well over $4 a gallon is bad enough all by itself, but it also affects the price of everything else. The cost of living is rising. The value of paychecks is falling. Many of our citizens can’t keep up, and we need to think first of them. As a country, we find ourselves caught between the rock of slower growth and the hard place of inflation. All of this, in large part, because the price of oil is too high, the supply of oil is too uncertain, and we depend on oil too much…. Energy security is a vital question because it concerns America’s most fundamental interests, and above all the safety of our citizens from the violence of the world. All the tact of diplomacy cannot conceal a blunt reality. When we buy foreign oil, we are enriching some of our worst enemies. And in the Middle East, Venezuela, and elsewhere, these regimes know how to use the power of that wealth” (speech, June 25, 2008, Arlington, Va.).

— What McCain says he’ll do about the energy crisis if elected: “When I’m president, we’re going to embark on the most ambitious national project in decades. We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much. We will attack the problem on every front. We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we’ll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles” (acceptance speech, Republican National Convention, Sept. 4, 2008). “As president, I will turn all the apparatus of government in the direction of energy independence for our country — authorizing new production, building nuclear plants, perfecting clean coal, improving our electricity grid, and supporting all the new technologies that one day will put the age of fossil fuels behind us” (speech, June 25, 2008, Arlington, Va.).

— What McCain says about a proposed expansion of offshore oil drilling: “I think that this, and perhaps providing additional incentives for states to permit exploration off their coasts, would be very helpful in the short term in resolving our energy crisis” (press release, June 16, 2008). “In oil, gas, and coal deposits, we have enormous energy reserves of our own. And we are gaining the means to use these resources in cleaner, more responsible ways. As for offshore drilling, it’s safe enough these days that not even Hurricanes Katrina and Rita could cause significant spillage from the battered rigs off the coasts of New Orleans and Houston” (speech, June 17, 2008, Houston).

— What McCain says about a proposed windfall profits tax that would increase taxes on oil company’s revenues: “If the plan sounds familiar, it’s because that was President Jimmy Carter’s big idea too — and a lot of good it did us. Now as then, all a windfall profits tax will accomplish is to increase our dependence on foreign oil, and hinder exactly the kind of domestic exploration and production we need. I’m all for recycling — but it’s better applied to paper and plastic than to the failed policies of the 1970s” (speech, June 17, 2008, Houston).

— What McCain says about Obama’s beliefs and proposed policies on energy: “Senator Obama opposes offshore drilling, he opposes nuclear, he opposes [a] gas tax holiday, he opposes giving a [$300 million] award [to the first person who develops] a real battery-driven car. So he’s Dr. No” (interview, “Hannity & Colmes,” Fox News, July 2008). “Sen. Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to restore the health of our planet” (acceptance speech, Republican National Convention, Sept. 4, 2008).


— What Obama says about the current energy crisis: “Will we allow ourselves to be held hostage to the whims of tyrants and dictators who control the world’s oil wells? Or will we control our own energy and our own destiny? Will America watch as the clean energy jobs and industries of the future flourish in countries like Spain, Japan, or Germany? Or will we create them here, in the greatest country on Earth, with the most talented, productive workers in the world? As Americans, we know the answers to these questions. We know that we cannot sustain a future powered by a fuel that is rapidly disappearing. Not when we purchase $700 million worth of oil every single day from some the world’s most unstable and hostile nations — Middle Eastern regimes that will control nearly all of the world’s oil by 2030” (speech, Aug. 6, 2008, Elkhart, Ind.).

— What Obama says he’ll do about the energy crisis if elected: “If I am President, I will put the full resources of the federal government and the full energy of the private sector behind a single, overarching goal — in 10 years, we will eliminate the need for oil from the entire Middle East and Venezuela. To do this, we’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade and leverage billions more in private capital to harness American energy and create five million new American jobs — jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced, good union jobs that lift up our families and communities. There are three major steps I’ll take to achieve this goal. First, we’ll commit ourselves to getting one million 150 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrid cars on our roads within six years. And we’ll make sure that the cars of tomorrow are built not just in Japan or China, but right here in the United States of America. Second, we’ll double the amount of our energy that comes from renewable sources by the end of my first term. That means investing in renewables like wind and solar power, and we’ll also invest in the next generation biofuels. Third, I will call on businesses, government, and the American people to meet the goal of reducing our demand for electricity 15 percent by the end of the next decade. This is by far the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to reduce our energy consumption — and it will save us $130 billion on our energy bills” (speech, Aug. 6, 2008, Elkhart, Ind.).

— What Obama says about a proposed expansion of offshore oil drilling: “My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices. If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done” (interview, Palm Beach Post, Aug. 1, 2008). “It’s a proposal that won’t yield a drop of oil for at least seven years” (speech, Aug. 6, 2008, Elkhart, Ind.). “When I’m president, I intend to keep in place the moratorium here in Florida and around the country that prevents oil companies from drilling off Florida’s coasts. That’s how we can protect our coastline and still make the investments that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and bring down gas prices for good” (press conference, Florida, June 2008, as cited on CNN.com).

— What Obama says about a proposed windfall profits tax that would increase taxes on oil company revenues: “[If elected] I’ll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we’ll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills” (speech, June 9, 2008, Raleigh, N.C.).

— What Obama says about McCain’s beliefs and proposed policies on energy: “In all that time [McCain was in Washington], he did little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He voted against increased fuel efficiency standards and opposed legislation that included tax credits for more efficient cars. He voted against renewable sources of energy. Against clean biofuels. Against solar power. Against wind power. Against an energy bill that — while far from perfect — represented the largest investment in renewable sources of energy in the history of this country. So when Sen. McCain talks about the failure of politicians in Washington to do anything about our energy crisis, it’s important to remember that he’s been a part of that failure” (speech, Aug. 6, 2008, Elkhart, Ind.).
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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