Electoral Energy

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It has been a long election season with countless twists and turns and changing poll numbers, but we're almost to the finish line. As Americans prepare to cast their votes, it's time to sharpen our focus and take a closer look at where the major party candidates stand on some of the most pressing issues facing our country: promoting sustainable growth and improving our energy infrastructure.

At Business Roundtable, we believe enacting sound energy and environmental policies should be a top priority for the next administration, and we're thrilled that both Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) have made tackling energy and climate change top priorities of their campaigns. As we learned in July when we hosted the candidates' advisors at our Energy and Environment Forum, Obama and McCain share some common policy positions.

On environmental policy, for instance, both favor "smart grid" power lines and have promoted cap-and-trade plans to combat global climate change. Both oppose oil exploration in ANWR. Both favor a combination of tax incentives and public investments to spur development in clean coal and alternative energy sources like wind and solar.

On transportation efficiency there are similarities, too. Obama is pushing to increase the Renewable Fuel Standard, boost fuel economy requirements above 35 miles per gallon (mpg) and realize more than 1 million plug-in hybrids on the road by the end of his second term. While McCain does not favor raising the fuel economy standard, he does support flex-fuel cars, eliminating tariffs on ethanol and awarding a $300 million prize to the first car company that develops "a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars."

Now, the differences. McCain has supported the proposal to invoke a "tax holiday" on the 18-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax, which is opposed by Obama. Obama proposed a so-called "windfall" profits tax on oil companies, which is opposed by McCain. The Republican and Democratic nominees also disagree on treatment of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (Obama wants to release millions of barrels of oil; McCain only wants to suspend further purchases), the Yucca Mountain project for nuclear storage (McCain is in favor; Obama is opposed) and nuclear power (McCain wants to build 45 new plants by 2030; Obama is uncommitted).

Regardless of who becomes our next president, we believe the solutions must be long-term, bipartisan and increase domestic supply through oil and natural gas exploration while expanding investments in alternative sources of energy like wind, solar and biofuels. A successful plan must also be careful to balance conservation efforts with economic growth and prosperity for America's citizens, communities and companies.

To find out more about the candidates' policies on energy and the environment, check out the side-by-side comparisons published by Reuters and the Associated Press and read McCain and Obama's individual plans on their respective campaign Web sites.

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