The Long & Short of Obama’s Energy Plan

By Lindsey Ellerson

Aug 4, 2008 2:45pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller Reports: Senator Barack Obama laid out his short term and long term goals for the nation’s energy crisis in Lansing, Michigan Monday – not holding back criticism for what he says is his Republican opponent’s inaction on the issue.

Releasing his “New Energy for America” plan today, Obama told the crowd that the one thing he and Senator McCain agree on is that the dependence on foreign oil has been thirty years in the making caused by the failure of politicians in Washington.

But then came the criticism of his Republican opponent.

“What Senator McCain neglected to mention was that during those thirty years, he was in Washington for twenty-six of them.  And in all that time, he did little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Obama said.  “So when Senator 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.”

Obama laid out his vision to help provide relief in the short term, including giving every working family a $1000 energy rebate, leasing more of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for oil and gas production, and tapping more of the natural gas reserves to work with the Canadian government to build the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.

For the first time Monday, Obama also shifted positions – now calling for the tapping of some of the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, by swapping light oil for heavy oil in an attempt to lower costs in the short term. 

The Illinois Senator said that none of these steps will create a solid move toward energy independence in the long term – and that off shore drilling is not entirely the answer.

Obama recently shifted his position on his opposition to off-shore drilling as well – this weekend telling reporters that he’d accept a compromise bipartisan congressional plan by the Gang of 10 that includes off-shore drilling as long as it includes a larger plan toward energy independence.

“Like all compromises, this one has its drawbacks.  It does include a limited amount of new offshore drilling, and while I still don’t believe that’s a particularly meaningful short-term or long-term solution, what I’ve said is I am willing to consider it if it’s necessary to actually pass a comprehensive plan,” Obama said of the bipartisan plan. “While the compromise is a good first step and a good faith effort, I believe that we must go even further.”

Obama said that unlike McCain he doesn’t believe drilling is the one solution to the problem.

“Like George Bush and Dick Cheney before him, he sees more drilling as the answer to all of our energy problems, and like Bush and Cheney, he’s found a receptive audience in the very same oil companies that have blocked our progress for so long,” Obama said of McCain.

Obama also blasted McCain for being in the pocket of big oil, and noted McCain got $1 million from oil company executives after he introduced his plan to drill off-shore.

"The oil companies have placed a bet on Sen. McCain and if he wins, they will continue to cash in while our families and our economy suffer and our future is put in jeopardy."   

As part of Obama’s long term plan he calls for:

-A goal of having one million 150 miles-per-gallon plug in hybrids on the roads by 2015
-A requirement that 10% of energy comes from renewable sources by the end of his first term, including extending the Production Tax credit for 5 years to encourage the production of renewable energy resources
-A goal to reduce the demand for electricity by 15% by the end of the next decade by implementing energy efficient programs

While admitting the his plan “sounds like a pie in the sky,” Obama told the crowd that the adoption of his proposal would produce renewable energy to replace all the oil imported from the Middle East in ten years.

The McCain campaign called Obama’s energy plan a "re-release" of his energy proposals, pointing out that Obama voted with Bush and Cheney in 2005 on energy.

“When Barack Obama voted for the 2005 Bush-Cheney energy policy, he voted to give enormous tax breaks to the same big oil companies he attacked today," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said.  "Barack Obama offered no new solutions for increasing domestic production of energy in his speech today, but promised energy independence within a decade. If Barack Obama thinks that can be achieved without new offshore drilling and more nuclear power, he isn’t being straight with the American people. And if Barack Obama really believes that some ‘progress’ has finally been made in Washington, then he doesn’t have the judgment to know that the American people expect more.”

Obama campaigns throughout the Midwest this week – in Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri – and will continue to push his energy plan.

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