The Great Energy Debate

By Jenny Farley in Washington, DC

You might stump most Americans if you asked them to explain the presidential candidates’ energy policies. All they know is they want to pay less for gas, be able to heat and cool their homes without going broke and buy cheaper groceries for their table.

In Michigan, Barack Obama trotted out a detailed plan for solving the energy crisis that includes:

–dipping into America’s strategic oil reserves to help relieve sticker shock.

–a windfall tax on oil company profits to pay for a one-thousand dollar rebate to all Americans to help with high energy costs.

–a strategy for putting one million 150-mile-per-gallon plug-in Hybrid cars on the road within six years.

–a requirement that ten percent of the nation’s energy come from renewable sources by the end of his first term.

He also said he’s willing to consider offshore oil drilling, quote, “if it’s necessary to actually pass a comprehensive plan.”

The Obama campaign also began running a new campaign ad that accuses opponent John McCain of profiting from Big Oil — to the tune of two million dollars in campaign contributions.

But Obama has also received donations from workers in the oil and gas industry, totaling nearly 400-thousand dollars, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  The group also noted that McCain’s direct contributions from oil company executives and workers amount to 1-point-3 million.  The higher figure in the Obama campaign ad is meant to also reflect oil money McCain is getting through the Republican National Committee.   The Center for Responsive Politics says it does not know if that estimate is accurate.

On Tuesday, John McCain plans to tour a nuclear power plant in Michigan. McCain says “we need more nuclear power” and has proposed building 45 new nuclear plants.

And although today he talked about the need to develop alternative energies “like wind, solar, tide, biofuels and geothermal,” it’s easier to digest the other headlines from his speech.

He called on Obama to ask Congress to return from their five week vacation to take up the energy debate.  And he slammed Obama’s energy plan as nothing more than a call for everyone to “inflate their tires.” His supporters even went so far as to hand out tire gauges outside Obama’s Michigan appearance. Written on them? “Obama’s energy plan.” Can America break its dependence on foreign oil? For some skeptics, it may all be a lot of hot air.

Jenny Farley is a producer with CNN Newsource, which contributes to KSAT-12 News.

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