Inside View: Obama vs. McCain on fuel costs

Jenni Chase
November 6, 2008

By the time this issue hits your mailbox, we will be days away from electing a new president of the United States. While the war in Iraq remains a key issue for many voters, fuel costs top the list of economic concerns among Americans heading to the polls this November, according to a September CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll.

Since fuel costs are critical to the health of auto glass  repair and replacement retailers, I decided to take a look at the energy policies of presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain. Following are some key points, directly excerpted from their respective energy plans.

Barack Obama: New Energy for America
  “• Will require oil companies take a reasonable share of their record-breaking windfall profits and use it to provide direct relief worth $500 for an individual and $1,000 for a married couple. The relief would be delivered as quickly as possible to help families cope with the rising price of gasoline, food and other necessities. … This relief would be a down payment on Obama’s long-term plan to provide middle-class families with at least $1,000 per year in permanent tax relief.

• Will strategically invest $150 billion in 10 years to accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial-scale renewable energy, encourage energy efficiency, invest in low-emissions coal plants, advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. … All together, these investments will help the private sector create 5 million new green jobs.

• Will set up a process for early identification of any infrastructure obstacles or shortages, or possible federal permitting process delays to drilling in: Bakken Shale in Montana and North Dakota; unconventional natural gas supplies in the Barnett Shale formation in Texas and the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas; and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.”

John McCain: The Lexington Project
“• Will establish a permanent tax credit equal to 10 percent of wages spent on research and development. This reform will simplify the tax code, reward activity in the U.S. and make us more competitive with other countries. … At a time when our companies need to be more competitive, we need to provide a permanent incentive to innovate, and remove the uncertainty now hanging over businesses as they make R&D investment decisions.

• Will propose a $300 million prize to improve battery technology for full commercial development of plug-in hybrid and fully electric automobiles. A $300 million prize should be awarded for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars. That battery should deliver a power source at 30 percent of the current costs.

• Will commit the United States to expanding domestic oil exploration. The current federal moratorium on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf stands in the way of energy exploration and production. John McCain believes it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use. We should keep more of our dollars here in the U.S., lessen our foreign dependency, increase our domestic supplies and reduce our trade deficit, 41 percent of which is due to oil imports. John McCain will cooperate with the states and the Department of Defense in the decisions to develop these resources.”

Jenni Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine, e-glass weekly and Write her at