Obama speechifies for energy independence, chemical-plant security

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is calling for a bipartisan effort to create a cabinet-level national director of energy security, who would coordinate federal policies to cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil. In a Tuesday speech to U.S. governors, Obama touted several policies to promote oil-free energy, among them Department of Defense investments in the best commercial biofuel endeavors. He also suggested Big Auto put serious effort into creating fuel-efficient vehicles, in return for the feds picking up some health care costs for industry retirees. Obama’s hot for national security: On Monday, he said he’d introduce legislation this week mandating minimum security requirements at chemical plants around the country, where an attack could kill thousands and endanger millions more. So far, only about 1,100 of the nation’s 15,000 largest plants participate in the Bush administration’s voluntary security program. “Voluntary security” — love it. But hey, at least the United Arab Emirates isn’t running the plants.