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McCain vs. Obama: The energy debate

The Washington Post covers Obama's speech on energy yesterday, in which he called for opening up the nation's strategic reserves to lower the price of gasoline -- "the second time in less than a week that he has modified a position on energy issues." More: "The proposal, along with Obama's comments last week that he would consider expanding offshore drilling as part of a comprehensive energy bill, illustrated how both candidates are trying to find quick fixes to $4-a-gallon gas and other rising energy costs. McCain had also opposed additional offshore drilling until reversing his position in June, and he has called for a suspension of the federal gas tax."

"But their proposals reflect a problem both candidates face: There are few ways to dramatically reduce gas prices, even as voters demand solutions."

The New York Times: "The proposals Mr. Obama offered Monday represented an effort to return the campaign's focus to bread-and-butter issues after he found himself repeatedly on the defensive last week against a newly aggressive McCain campaign. 'We should sell 70 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve for less expensive crude, which in the past has lowered gas prices within two weeks,' Mr. Obama said. 'Over the next five years, we should also lease more of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for oil and gas production, and we should also tap more of our substantial natural gas reserves and work with the Canadian government to finally build the Alaska natural gas pipeline, delivering clean natural gas.'"

Yet: "At the heart of Mr. Obama's proposals is a focus on fostering alternative energy development by investing $150 billion in emerging technologies and renewable fuels. Seeking to put a million fuel-efficient hybrid plug-in automobiles on the road, he said that he would offer a $7,000 tax credit to buyers, the overall cost of which he did not specify. In addition, Mr. Obama said his goal was to have 10 percent of the country's energy needs met by renewable resources by the end of his first term, more than double the current figure."

The Houston Chronicle: "John McCain received prolonged applause from the oil executives who gathered June 17 in Houston to hear the Republican presidential candidate's speech on energy policy. Now it appears that McCain received something else: Lots of campaign contributions."

"John McCain's contributions from energy industry interests happened to spike right around his Houston speech (and a fundraising tour of Texas). Is it a coincidence, the result of aggressive Texas outreach -- or is it a show of gratitude? Let us know what you think."

The Wall Street Journal did a whole story on the GOP's tire gauge gag.

Time fact-checks the tire gauge issue and finds Obama is right. "The RNC is trying to make the tire gauge a symbol of unseriousness, as if only the fatuous believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil without doing the bidding of Big Oil. But the tire gauge is really a symbol of a very serious piece of good news: we can use significantly less energy without significantly changing our lifestyle. The energy guru Amory Lovins has shown that investment in "nega-watts" — reduced electricity use through efficiency improvements — is much more cost-effective than investment in new megawatts, and the same is clearly true of nega-barrels. It might not fit the worldviews of right-wingers who deny the existence of global warming and insist that reducing emissions would destroy our economy, or of left-wing Earth-firsters who insist that maintaining our creature comforts would destroy the world, but there's a lot of simple things we can do on the demand side before we start rushing to ratchet up supply."