Where Do the Candidates Stand on Energy Alternatives?

By Todd A. Smith

            Over recent years, the sad reality that the planet is getting warmer and several world treasures have become endangered has made the search for energy alternatives an international priority.  Domestically, excessively expensive gas prices have further fueled the need for alternative energy solutions in order to lighten the load on Americans’ pocketbooks.

            Barack Obama and his Republican rival, John McCain, both agree that the time is now to solve America’s energy dependency and need for energy alternatives, but sometimes disagree on the way to achieve that goal.

            From the beginning of this historic campaign McCain has favored expanding domestic oil exploration, stating that the Outer Continental Shelf contains 77 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.

            “In recent days I have set before the American people an energy plan, the Lexington Project—named for the town where Americans asserted their independence once before.  And let it begin today with this commitment: In a world of hostile and unstable suppliers of oil, this nation will achieve strategic independence by 2025,” said McCain in a speech on June 25.

            At the second debate, Obama appeared to soften his stance on more offshore drilling, but has stated that he believes that will not solve the entire problem and that we will need to develop more energy alternatives to lessen the effects of global warming.

            The Obama-Biden energy plan would provide temporary relief for Americans struggling to fuel their automobiles; create five million new jobs dedicated to developing clean energy; put one million hybrid cars on the road by 2015; make sure that at least ten percent of our electricity comes from renewable energy sources; and like McCain would implement a cap-and-trade program that would reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas by 80 percent by the year 2050.

            According to McCain’s official website, “A cap-and-trade system harnesses human ingenuity in the pursuit of alternatives to carbon-based fuels.  Market participants are allotted total permits equal to the cap on greenhouse gas emissions.  If they can invent, improve, or acquire a way to reduce their emissions, they can sell their extra permits for cash.  The profit motive will coordinate the efforts of venture capitalists, corporate planners, entrepreneurs, and environmentalists on the common motive of reducing emissions.”

            McCain’s cap-and-trade system would include electric power, transportation fuels, and the business sector, which is responsible for just fewer than 90 percent of all emissions.

            However, the candidates’ policies on energy alternatives differ greatly on whether to enact a windfall profits tax on big oil companies.  Senator Obama would enact a windfall profits tax in order to provide a “$1,000 emergency energy rebate to American families,” according to his website.  Nevertheless, McCain believes a windfall tax on the oil industry would result in further dependence on foreign oil.  “(Former President) Jimmy Carter put a windfall tax in place with little to no useful results,” according to the Arizona senator’s website.

            The Arizona senator believes Americans need to make clean coal technology a priority by committing resources to advance this critical technology.  He also believes that America should be the leader in green jobs, stating that “green jobs and green technology will be vital to our economic future.”

            Whomever the future president may be, will undoubtedly have to find suitable energy alternatives for a nation that is struggling with the pain at the pump and the sad affects of a much warmer planet.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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