Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Barack Obama gave a speech on energy policy in Dayton, Ohio on Friday, and used the opportunity to rip on rival John McCain. He knocked the candidate’s calls for offshore drilling and a “gas-tax holiday,” and accused him of being part of the problem in Washington.

“A few days ago, Senator McCain said our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been 30 years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long-term about the future of the country,” said Obama. “The only problem is that out of those 30 years, Senator McCain was in Washington for 26.”

Rather than open up new areas to drilling, Obama called for policies to force oil companies to drill on the 68 million acres of land and offshore areas that are already available and increased investment in technology to extract more oil from existing fields.

But he emphasized the need to move away from oil. “We have to remember that these domestic resources are finite,” said Obama. “Even if you opened up every square inch of our land and our coasts to drilling, America still has only 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves.”

Instead, he called for a $50 billion stimulus package that would issue energy rebate checks to taxpayers, as well as a $1,000 middle-class tax cut to help cover rising energy prices. He also restated the components of the energy plan he released last fall, which called for a $150 billion investment in a clean energy fund, plans to double fuel mileage standards by 2030, and the creation of a venture capital fund to provide $50 billion over five years to support clean energy technologies. He included a $1 billion-a-year set-aside to modernize factories and automobile manufactures create more efficient vehicles.

He called for standards that draw 25 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025, upping the production of two billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels by 2013, and investment in clean coal and nuclear safety and storage. He pledged to make businesses and government 50 percent more efficient by 2030.