Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Comparing the Candidates' Plans

With the ecnomy continuing to dominate the political conversation, little attention has been paid lately to where the candidates stand on energy. Sarah Palin loves to talk about energy because it is right in her wheelhouse, but she hasn't been doing much talking about anything so voters have not gotten much more than "Drill Baby Drill!"

David Baker breaks out the McCain's and Obama's energy plans in the Chronicle today and concludes that, save for detail and nuance, they are largely the same, and that both could be scuttled by worsening economy.

A brief summary from the Chronicle:

Obama plans to:

-- Cut carbon dioxide emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

-- Create a cap-and-trade system covering the entire economy, auction permits to emit greenhouse gases and use $15 billion of the proceeds each year to fund alternative energy projects.

-- Require that 10 percent of the nation's electricity come from renewable sources by the year 2012. (California law requires 20 percent by the end of 2010.)

-- Increase fuel economy standards for cars by 4 percent each year, offer drivers a $7,000 tax credit for buying advanced technology vehicles, work with automakers to put 1 million plug-in hybrid electric cars on the road by 2015 and make sure all new U.S. cars can run on more than one fuel by 2013. To help carmakers make the switch, he would give them $4 billion in tax credits and loan guarantees for retooling their factories.

McCain wants to:

-- Cut carbon dioxide emissions to 60 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. Under his version of cap and trade, the initial round of permits would be allotted to companies for free, but later rounds would be auctioned. An unspecified amount of the proceeds would be used to fund alternative energy research.

-- Commit $2 billion each year to developing clean coal power plants, which trap the carbon dioxide they produce. He would restructure the tax code to encourage renewable power development and would create a permanent tax credit for research and development.

-- Give drivers a $5,000 tax credit for buying "zero carbon emissions" cars, and offer a $300 million prize to the company that can develop a substantially better and cheaper battery for plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars. Rather than raise fuel economy standards, McCain would crack down on carmakers who don't meet current mileage requirements.

The major differences are on nuclear, offshore drilling and, oil company profits.

Read all about it: