Like McCain, Obama Flips on Drilling

On June 16th of this year, John McCain made a speech where he outlined a whole new energy strategy that included a complete reversal from his previous stance on offshore oil drilling. For over a decade, McCain had opposed offshore oil drilling, but new polls showing a vast majority of American supporting increased domestic drilling changed his mind.

After making his energy shift, McCain began attacking Barack Obama for not supporting a similar policy. Several negative political advertisements by McCain questioned whether Obama was ready to lead because he didn't support offshore oil drilling. Obama's view was that drilling for oil would take 10 years and that America needed to transition away from oil now so in 10 years we'd rely on renewable sources of energy to power our lives. However, the negative ads took their toll on Obama's poll numbers, so he made a slight shift in the same direction as McCain.

The first change in Obama's energy stance is his request for the release of 70 million barrels of oil from America's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Releasing light crude from the Reserve has lowered gas prices within two weeks in the past. Obama has said he would accept drilling for oil off the U.S. coast only if it is part of a larger compromise that included increased funding for alternative energy sources and a windfall profits tax on oil companies that would be used to help individual taxpayers.

In addition to releasing oil from the Reserve and supporting domestic oil drilling, Obama is also pledging support for expansion of hybrid vehicle manufacturing. His goal is to put 1 million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015. Plug-in hybrids get up to 150 miles per gallon. Consumers who buy these hybrids will qualify for a $7,000 tax credit. Automakers could receive $4 billion in loans and tax credits to help them retool their factories to build fuel efficient vehicles. Obama has also proposed conservation efforts that would decrease U.S. electricity demand by 15% and new energy development that would replace 10% of our energy sources with renewables.

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