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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Obama in Vegas

When Barack Obama goes to Vegas, he apparently isn't completing satisfied with the potential payoffs from safe bets. He wants to win big. Earlier this year, his campaign managed to earn more delegates from Nevada despite finishing second to Hillary Clinton in the state caucuses.

This week, Obama went to Vegas to talk about an issue that has long been near-and-dear to Republicans -- energy, and especially oil. Remember how the 2001 Bush cabinet was loaded with people with ties to the oil industry?

Indeed, Obama gave a terrific speech on energy on Tuesday, June 24. Here are two key paragraphs that speak directly to Senator John McCain's energy plans:
Senator McCain wants a gas tax holiday that will save you – at most – thirty cents a day for three months. And that's only if the oil companies don't just jack up the price and pocket the savings themselves, which is exactly what they did when we tried to do the same thing in Illinois. He's willing to spend nearly $4 billion on more tax breaks for big oil companies – including $1.2 billion for Exxon alone. He wants to open our coastlines to drilling – a proposal that his own top economic advisor admitted won't provide any short-term relief at the pump. It's a proposal that George Bush's Administration says will not provide a drop of oil – not a single drop – for at least ten years. And by the time the drilling is fully underway in twenty years, our own Department of Energy says that the effect on gas prices will be "insignificant." Insignificant.

Just yesterday, Senator McCain actually admitted this. In a town hall he said, and I quote, "I don't see an immediate relief" but "the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have psychological impact that I think is beneficial." Psychological impact. In case you were wondering, that's Washington-speak for, "It polls well." It's an example of how Washington politicians try to convince you that they did something to make your life better when they really didn't. Well the American people don't need psychological relief or meaningless gimmicks to get politicians through the next election, they need real relief that will help them fill up their tanks and put food on their table. They need a long-term energy strategy that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil by investing in the renewable sources of energy that represent the future. That's what they need.
Much of the remainder of the speech outlines the contours of a long-term energy strategy -- strong federal government backing for renewable sources, including geothermal, solar, and wind power.

Indeed, Obama directly compares his energy initiative to JFK's commitment in May 1961 to land a man on the moon -- and return him safely to earth -- within a decade. Obama:
When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn't put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win – he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people. That's the kind of effort we need to achieve energy independence in this country, and nothing less will do.
Here's the meat of Obama's energy plan:
I have a plan to raise the fuel standards in our cars and trucks with technology we have on the shelf today – technology that will make sure we get more miles to the gallon. And we will provide financial help to our automakers and autoworkers to help them make this transition. I will invest $150 billion over the next ten years in alternative sources of energy like wind power, and solar power, and advanced biofuels – investments that will create up to five million new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced; that will create billions of dollars in new business like you're already doing here in Nevada. And before we hand over more of our land and our coastline to oil companies, I will charge those companies a fee for every acre that they currently lease but don't drill on. If that compels them to drill, we'll get more oil. If it doesn't, the fees will go toward more investment in renewable sources of energy.

When all is said and done, my plan to increase our fuel standards will save American consumers from purchasing half a trillion gallons of gas over the next eighteen years.
The environmentalist in me is ready to cheer these policies.

Hat tip: David Roberts of Gristmill.

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