Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Energy Issues and the US Presidential Candidates

The most important concern in the latest presidential election campaign in the U.S. is the energy policy issue. Both the Republicans and Democrats are addressing this issue and both are keen on cutting down expenditure on foreign oil and also the large scale reliance of U.S economy on the foreign oil.

You may find out what each candidate is saying by taking a look at the following. Democratic candidate Barack Obama as well as Republican candidate John McCain are paying serious attention to energy issues. Analysts have commented on their policies and it is explained for you in lucid terms below.

OFFSHORE DRILLING

Initially Obama was against lifting the congressional moratorium on drilling in federal lands off U.S. coasts. Recently however he has switched to supporting limited expanded offshore drilling as a part of broader legislation to help solve America’s energy problems.

McCain defends expanding the offshore drilling program to tap the projected 18 billion barrels of oil that is present on the outer continental shelf of U.S. He has said that this will be done without harming the environment in any way.

STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE

McCain is against opening up the reserved stock pile of oil unless he feels, what he calls, a serious shortage far outreaching the demand or disorder in the supply machinery.

Initially, Obama too opposed releasing oil from the reserve unless there was a critical disruption of supply, but he has recently changed his stance and now supports releasing 70 million barrels of light sweet crude, later to be compensated by heavier crude.

WINDFALL PROFITS TAX

Obama supports a tax cut for middle and lower middle classes. He wants to do this via a five-year windfall tax on profits of large scale oil companies. The burden of high energy prices will thus be compensated by the tax from large oil companies themselves. The middle and lower middle classes therefore can enjoy the benefits of a $1,000 tax rebate under the Obama presidency.

McCain is against burdening the oil companies with new taxes.

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Obama wants to give an impetus to alternative fuel usage by means of a $7,000 tax credit for people who buy “advanced” automobiles. He wants over a million plug-in hybrid cars on the go by 2015. Obama also wishes to raise the Renewable Fuel Standard to at least 60 billion gallons of highly developed biofuels like cellulosic ethanol by 2030; create a proper ethanol distribution infrastructure, direct that all new vehicles be “flexfuel” by the time his first term in office ends. He wishes to ensure the production of 2 billion gallons of “cellulosic” ethanol from non-corn sources like switchgrass by 2013.

McCain however is against ethanol inducements and has said that he would abolish the import tariff on sugar cane-based ethanol. Basically, he is against subsidies and tariffs that disrupt market practices; he wants a $5,000 tax credit for buying zero carbon emission cars; He wants a tiered structure that gives highest tax credit to the least carbon emitting car. McCain too, backs the usage of “flexfuel” automobiles.

SPECULATION ON FUTURES MARKETS

Obama has advised government control on trading and regulated exchange. He wants proper information on markets especially on index funds and other similar ventures. He supports legalized sanction and directives issued to the Commodity Futures Exchange Commission to look up proposals which suggest increasing margin requirements in the market; He backs closing up the Enron Loophole.

McCain on the other hand is worried about the speculative nature of the market. He too backs closing the Enron Loophole, looking into probable market exploitation and manipulation and making new laws and regulations regularizing the oil futures market to make them more clear and successful.

NUCLEAR POWER

McCain wishes to create 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030, and finally wants 100 new nuclear plants built in U.S. He backs the storing of nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada desert.

Obama too backs the usage of nuclear power, but feels that nuclear waste disposition and proliferation is an important concern too. He is against the Yucca Mountain plan.

GASOLINE TAX HOLIDAY

McCain has given a proposal of the gasoline tax holiday. In it he would deflect funds from general government revenues compensating for transportation projects funded by the tax.
Obama is against temporarily removing the federal tax on gasoline. He thinks that temporary tax benefit is not the real answer to the problem.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Obama wants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050; that is take it to the 1990 level by 2020.He wants the reduction of carbon content by 10 percent by 2020.

McCain wants a CO2reduction too, he wants to lower emissions by 30 percent by 2050.

OIL USE

McCain wants U.S to be self reliant by 2025 in its oil usage. Obama wishes to lower down oil usage by at least 35 per cent or 10 million barrels per day by 2030, to reduce the reliance on OPEC nations.

ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Obama is against Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling. McCain wishes to have more offshore oil drilling, does not back ANWR drilling at the moment.

ENERGY RESEARCH

Obama wishes to spend $150 billion over 10 years on low-carbon energy sources, double R&D expenditure on biomass, solar and wind resources; speed up commercialization of plug-in hybrids, encourage low-emissions coal plants.

McCain has proposed giving $300 million to the auto company that invents a car battery that will ensure that U.S is free from oil usage. He wants to spend $2 billion every year to encourage clean coal technology.

VEHICLE FUEL ECONOMY

Obama wants to double fuel economy standards in 18 years; encourage auto makers by giving them tax incentives for making new engines and lightweight materials.

McCain does not have specific Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) targets. He backs increasing fines for auto companies that violate CAFE standards and wants to give tax benefits founded on carbon emissions of automobiles.

ELECTRICITY

Obama wishes to ensure that renewable energy is used by U.S utilities for at least 25 percent of their work by 2025.

McCain wants the government to ensure increased investment to improve and advance the national grid; he wishes to make sure that the grid has the capability to charge electricity run automobiles on a large scale and backs the use of SmartMeter technologies. This SmartMeter technology will ensure that consumers get an accurate estimate of their energy usage and promote cost effective usage of power.

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