Green group Friends of the Earth Action endorsed Barack Obama for president on Saturday, citing his principled stand against a temporary suspension of the gasoline tax. “The ‘gas tax holiday’ debate is a defining moment in the presidential race,” said Friends of the Earth Action President Brent Blackwelder. “The two other candidates responded with sham solutions that won’t ease pain at the pump, but Sen. Obama refused to play that typical Washington game. Instead, Obama called for real solutions that would make transportation more affordable and curb global warming.”

Obama and Hillary Clinton continue to spar over the issue. Clinton is trying to paint Obama as out of touch with the economic woes of ordinary Americans; she told an audience in Indiana that Obama is “attacking my plan to try to get you some kind of break this summer.” Obama is defending his position in a TV ad and in campaign speeches. Of Clinton’s support for the gas-tax holiday, he said, “This is what passes for leadership in Washington — phony ideas, calculated to win elections instead of actually solving problems.”

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Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are preparing to release a plan to counter rising gas prices, but it’s unlikely to include a gas-tax holiday, Grist’s Kate Sheppard reports. A Republican plan unveiled last week also omits a tax holiday; it does include a plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

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