The Candidates on Energy

Just about two weeks out until Election Day, so the newspapers are beginning their side-by-side comparisons of the candidates. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer examined energy this weekend, a pretty good job, too, “Energy policies of Barack Obama and John McCain overlap; differences are in priorities“:

[The] energy policies espoused by Obama and McCain overlap in many areas. Like Obama, McCain touts the promise of green jobs that could be created through alternative energy. Both candidates boost clean-coal technology. Both want to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. McCain and Obama both favor offshore oil drilling and oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife refuge.

However, each stresses different priorities on energy while campaigning, says Cleveland Foundation energy expert Richard Stuebi. Obama focuses more on renewable energy and energy efficiency, while McCain emphasizes boosting supplies of fossil fuels and building more nuclear power plants, Stuebi says.

We’ll knock the Plain-Dealer for failing to mention Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden’s plain disavowal of clean coal, and the degree to which Senator Obama has made the oil companies a target, although Obama’s support for an investment-discouraging windfall profits tax is mentioned. (What’s the price of oil today, anyway?)

But you do only have so much space, and in the end, the Plain-Dealer gets points for including the most important disclaimer: You shouldn’t necessarily believe what the candidates say. The paper uses someone else to state the case — energy industry spokesman Frank Maisano — and frames it more diplomatically, but that’s the bottom line:

“Reality in policy making and reality in campaigning are two different things,” Maisano continued. “It is hard to tell what they are going to do until next year, when they actually have to do it.”

Elsewhere the London Times writes a piece speculating that the global financial crisis will discourage any administration from undertaking a major new environmental regulatory regime, i.e., cap and trade. The article is, “Environment will wither whoever win US election.” Because the fate of the environment depends entirely on whether the United States adopts more jobs-killing regulations.

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