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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Wall Street Journal compares the candidates on energy policy. Not surprisingly, it turns out McCain is mostly hot air.

At a roundtable with business leaders in Washington state last month, Sen. McCain expressed reluctance to support government incentives such as tax credits for wind and solar energy. He compared his stance on the matter to his position on corn ethanol. "I'm a little wary -- I have to give you straight talk -- about government subsidies," he said. "When government jumps in and distorts the market, then there's unintended consequences as well as intended."

Sen. Obama has no such compunction about using the government's means to achieve his ends on energy and climate change. He says the U.S. doesn't do enough to move promising but risky clean-energy technologies from the research lab to the marketplace.

He's promising to invest $150 billion over the next decade in alternative fuels such as cellulosic ethanol that can be made from materials such as switchgrass and wood chips. He'd push a requirement that the U.S. by 2025 get at least 25% of its electricity from renewable sources like the wind, the sun and geothermal energy (which together currently account for less than 1% of U.S. electricity supply).

Sen. Obama is also framing the climate-change debate in more explicit language than Sen. McCain. "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on, you know, 72 degrees [Fahrenheit] at all times and then just expect that every other country's going to say OK. That's not -- that's not leadership," he told a crowd in Portland, Oregon, last month.
The article rightly takes Obama to task for his support of liquid coal, probably the single worst aspect of Obama's record for my money—though thankfully coal is something we should continue to see him pivot away from as he transitions from an Illinois politician to a national one.