Last week when I posted on Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, I promised John McCain would get the same treatment. As much of his speech focused on his past record of service and pointing out differences between his campaign and Obama's, his relevant passages (other than passing remarks) in regards to the environment were pretty much given in one go. So, here there are:
Energy & Environment Policy in a Nutshell
My fellow Americans, 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.
Senator 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. [...]
This great national cause will create millions of new jobs, many in industries that will be the engine of our future prosperity; jobs that will be there when your children enter the workforce.
McCain's speech touches on many of the same points as Obama's. Creating a greentech economy will indeed create many new jobs (and jobs which are more difficult to outsource). The United States does indeed need to produce more energy at home. Hybrid, flex-fuel and electric vehicles do need to be promoted. That said, I think McCain misses the boat in the continued call for offshore oil drilling and the development of clean coal. To be fair, Obama also mentioned clean coal, so these comments apply to him as well in this regards.
Clean Coal, Offshore Oil Drilling Distractions From Making Real Changes
At the risk of sounding repetitive, clean coal simply doesn't exist and throwing more money into that fire won't make it happen. It's simply an expensive distraction from getting the United States off fossil fuels and onto other energy sources as quickly as possible.
Ditto for offshore oil drilling: There certainly is oil in protected areas, but by every measurement there simply isn't that much there and what is available will have so little impact on the price or supply of oil by the time it enters the market that the only people who will benefit from it are oil companies. The price consumers pay may drop slightly, but not significantly. The persistent call of "drill baby drill" heard throughout the speech is just the sound of junkies looking for a fix.
Real Energy Independence Impossible With Fossil Fuels
The long and short of it is, as long as fossil fuels are in the mix to any significant degree, and if there is any chance of reducing carbon emissions, any talk of actual energy independence for the United States is empty rhetoric.
Is it possible to marginally increase energy independence? Yes. However, the only route to long-term energy independence is through domestic renewable energy sources. With anything else, at some point, the United States will be forced to import fuel and enter into dependent relationships.
:: John McCain for President
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