Obama v. McCain on the Issues: Energy Policy

Sep 5, 2008 by

After all the lies we heard coming out of the RNC, and since the Republicans had their chance yet choose not to talk about REAL ISSUES for an entire week, let’s take a closer look at the differences between Obama and McCain’s policies that affect working families most.



  • Obama Would Provide $1,000 Immediate Energy Rebates this Fall. Under Obama’s plan, a windfall profits tax would be placed on the oil companies in order to fund emergency energy rebates of $500 per worker and $1,000 per family for 95% of American families. Obama will also crack down on oil market speculation and swap oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help bring down prices.
  • Obama Will Invest $150 Billion Over 10 Years And Create 5 Million New Green Jobs. Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years in renewable energy, energy efficiency and the next generation of clean vehicles. These investments will lower oil demand and prices in the long term, create 5 million new jobs, and improve our environment.
  • Obama Will Partner With Domestic Automakers To Fast-Track The Development Of Higher Mileage Cars And Produce Advanced Vehicles. As President, Obama will invest in putting one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015 and provide $4 billion in retooling tax credits and loan guarantees for domestic auto plants and parts manufacturers, so that the new fuel-efficient cars can be built in the U.S. by American workers rather than overseas. He will also provide tax credits for consumers to purchase advanced technology vehicles.


  • McCain Has Been Part Of The Problem in Washington. McCain said that our dependence on foreign oil has been “thirty years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington.” However, McCain has been in Washington for 26 of those 30 years and has done little to solve the problem. He has since changed his mind. [McCain speech, 7/7/08]
  • McCain Offers Washington Gimmicks Instead Of Real Energy Solutions That Save You Pennies While Boosting Oil Industry Profits. McCain’s energy plan offers the same failed policies and Washington gimmicks. His plan to suspend the gas-tax would save you only pennies when you fill up the gas tank, but would actually lead to increased oil industry profits. In addition, McCain has repeatedly voted against a windfall profits tax on the oil companies. And he is now proposing a plan that would cut taxes for oil companies by $4 billion. [Business Week, 4/15/08; CNN, 5/6/08; “The McCain Plan to Cut Oil Company Taxes by Nearly $4 Billion,” Center for American Progress Action Fund, 3/27/08; Vote 341, S. 2020, 11/17/05; Vote 331, S. 2020, , 11/17/05; Houston Chronicle, 11/17/05]
  • McCain Has Opposed Investments In Renewable Energy. McCain has repeatedly opposed key investments in renewable sources of energy and even voted against increased the fuel economy standards. [2006 Senate Vote #42; 2005 Senate Vote #363, #213, #158; 2003 Senate Vote #317; 2002 Senate Vote #94, #77; 2001 Senate Vote #125; 1999 Senate Vote #246, #171; 1992 Senate Vote #150, 7/23/1992; 2005 Senate Vote #157, 6/23/2005; 2003 Senate Vote #317, 7/31/2003; Senate Vote #309, 7/29/2003; 2002 Senate Vote #94, 4/25/2002; 2002 Senate Vote #77, 4/23/2002]
  • McCain Joined Bush In Opposing Legislation That Included Tax Incentives For the Purchase Of Fuel Efficient Cars. Twice in the last year, McCain has joined President Bush in opposing legislation that included $3,000 in tax rebates for purchasers of plug-in hybrid vehicles or fully electric vehicles. [HR 5140, Vote 8, 2/6/08, Failed 58-41; New York Times, 2/7/08; Detroit News, 2/12/08; HR 6, Congressional Quarterly Senate Vote 425, 12/13/07, Failed 59-40: R 9-39 D 48-1 I 2-0; Forbes, 12/13/07; The San Francisco Chronicle, 12/14/07; 2006 Senate Vote #42, 3/14/2006; 2005 Senate Vote #158, 6/28/2005; 2001 Senate Vote #125, 5/21/2001; 2005 Senate Vote #139, 6/15/2005; 2005 Senate Vote #138, 6/15/2005; 2004 Senate Vote #74, 4/29/2004; 2004 Senate Vote #73, 4/29/2004; 2003 Senate Vote #209, 6/5/2003; 2003 Senate Vote #207, 6/5/2003; 2003 Senate Vote #204, 6/3/2003; 2003 Senate Vote #203, 6/3/2003; 2002 Senate Vote #88, 4/25/2002; 2002 Senate Vote #78, 4/23/2002; 1994 Senate Vote #255, 8/3/1994; 1992 Senate Vote #18, 2/5/1992; Vote 157, HR 6, 6/23/05; 2003 Senate Vote #309, 7/29/03; HR 4, Vote 94, 4/25/02]

That’s not change, that’s just more of the same.

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Obama Steps Out As the Environmental Candidate

Jun 26, 2008 by

ObamagreenFinally. The moment came when I felt like it could happen. I was already officially supporting Senator Obama, but yesterday as I sat down on the plane at JFK international airport, I noticed other passengers watching him in a press conference on CNN, so I turned my TV on.

Within moments, Senator Obama was saying what I had been waiting to hear for months: he wants to approach the environmental crisis the same way JFK himself approached getting to the moon, only with an even more aggressive goal. And I suddenly felt as if my plane was going to the moon. Finally we have the opportunity to elect a leader at a pivotal time in history who will make the policies we so desperately need to have a chance at saving the planet. I always knew he could do it, I knew he could rally people, and I knew if he could work with Al Gore, they could make it happen. But I hadn’t seen the evidence. Yesterday I did.

Try as I might to agree 100% with Obama’s environmental policies, I don’t really understand his attachment to Ethanol – I see the problems of too much dependence on corn and what it’s doing to our ecosystem – but the rest of it makes sense. And I can’t chide McCain for all of his ideas either… please, pretty please whoever wins take all of the cars and buildings used by the government and make them green. That’s absolutely essential. But there must be more to it than that. McCain can criticize all he wants, but Obama laid down a plan to get it done that’s not based on a bunch of nods to special interest groups.

If I remember correctly, Senator Obama yesterday called for putting $150 Billion toward solving the environmental crisis. And he calls it what it is – a ‘crisis,’ ‘global warming,’ etc. He uses ‘climate change’ sometimes too, but you get the sense that he understands the meaning of these things when he speaks about them vs. just touting whatever the party line terminology happens to be. And Obama has a new energypage on the site that describes what he has in mind.

I’m an issue voter a lot of the time. When in doubt, if candidates have similar policies across the board, I’ll go for the one with the stronger environmental record. And when comparing the candidates in the primaries, I was saddened that those with the most aggressive policies really had little chance of becoming the nominee (Richardson and Edwards). Throughout the primaries, I knew Senators Obama and Clinton both had it in them to step up to the plate and hit a home run for the environment, but at the seventh inning stretch, no one had.

I don’t really understand why it’s taken so long in the election for the environmental crisis to become a major contender in the debate. Maybe it’s because it seemed so obvious that the Democrats always come out as the environmental candidates and McCain is grabbing for whatever political real estate he can find, but it’s difficult to see how someone advocating offshore drilling and more wars could truly be an environmental candidate, no matter how much sweet talking he tries to do, no matter how many cheesy videos he releases on the topic. The sad truth is that if gas prices hadn’t skyrocketed as far as they have, perhaps the environment never would have been drawn into the discussion because now it’s all wrapped up in new, clean, renewable energy and it’s less scary and fuzzy to talk about energy than the environment for policy makers.

Troubling to me is that I can’t find video of yesterday’s press conference anywhere after a decent search on the Obama site and blog, and Google (inc. Google News), and YouTube. I wanted to include direct quotes. I wanted to help fire people up. But I’m sure the remarks and the clips will be released soon enough. It was a very “presidential” press conference, as Time magazine noted. I also wonder how Al Gore’s endorsement plays into all of this timing, along with the floods, oil spill issues and other disasters looming.

The bottom line is we truly do have an environmental candidate in Barack Obama and I believe he will make good on this initiative. I believe he can and should do it in the first 100 days when the world is watching and rallying behind him. I believe he can raise us up to feeling empowered to make the necessary changes, and I believe he can devise programs to solve the most difficult of dilemmas during the process.

Sarah Granger, formerly served as a member of a city level Environmental Quality Commission and currently writes for ecofabulous, among other things.

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