From: Reuters
Published November 3, 2008 08:42 AM

FACTBOX: Presidential candidates on energy issues

(Reuters) - U.S. energy policy has become a major issue for the 2008 presidential campaigns after high energy costs added to the consumer woes this year and both parties seek to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Here is a look at what Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican rival John McCain are saying about energy issues. Comments from analysts on the candidates policies can be found here:

OFFSHORE DRILLING

Obama opposed lifting the congressional moratorium on drilling in federal lands off U.S. coasts, but now says he would support limited expanded offshore drilling as a part of broader legislation to help solve America's energy problems.

McCain supports expanding offshore drilling to tap the estimated 18 billion barrels of oil on the U.S. outer continental shelf. "We can do this in ways that are consistent with sensible standards of environmental protection," he said.

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STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE

McCain opposes releasing oil from the emergency stockpile unless there is a serious supply disruption.

Earlier in the campaign, Obama opposed releasing oil from the reserve unless there was a severe supply disruption, but he now supports releasing 70 million barrels of light sweet crude, which would be replaced later with heavier crude.

WINDFALL PROFITS TAX

Obama supports a five-year windfall tax on profits of large oil companies. The proceeds from the tax would pay for a $1,000 tax rebate for low- and middle-income families to help them cope with rising energy prices.

McCain opposes raising taxes on oil companies.

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Obama wants to create a $7,000 tax credit for purchasing "advanced" vehicles, one million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015, boost the Renewable Fuel Standard to at least 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol by 2030; build out ethanol distribution infrastructure, mandate that all new vehicles be "flexfuel" by end of his first term, produce 2 billion gallons of "cellulosic" ethanol from non-corn sources like switchgrass by 2013.

McCain opposes ethanol incentives and said he would eliminate the import tariff on sugar cane-based ethanol. He generally opposes subsidies and tariffs that distort marketplace; supports a $5,000 tax credit for purchasing zero carbon emission cars; other cars will receive tax credits on a graduated scale with lower carbon emission cars receiving higher tax credits; supports shifting to "flexfuel" vehicles.

SPECULATION ON FUTURES MARKETS

Obama proposed requiring U.S. energy futures to trade only on regulated exchanges; wants more data gathered on index funds and other similar types of investors in futures markets; backs legislation directing the Commodity Futures Exchange Commission to investigate proposals such as increasing margin requirements in the market; supports fully closing the Enron Loophole.

McCain has expressed concern about excessive speculation in futures markets. He also supports closing the Enron Loophole, investigations into possible market manipulation and reforming the laws and regulations governing the oil futures market to make them more transparent and effective.

NUCLEAR POWER

McCain wants to build 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030, and ultimately wants 100 new nuclear plants built in U.S. He supports storing nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada desert.

Obama supports nuclear power, but says disposing of nuclear waste from U.S. plants and solving nuclear proliferation concerns are important. He opposes the Yucca Mountain plan.

GASOLINE TAX HOLIDAY

McCain proposed the gasoline tax holiday. He would divert funds from general government revenues to pay for transportation projects funded by the tax.

Obama opposes temporarily lifting the federal tax on gasoline. He said the suspension of the tax would save each American family less than $30 and is not a real solution.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Obama would cut carbon dioxide emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050; reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020; require fuels suppliers to cut carbon content by 10 percent by 2020.

McCain favors a cap-and-trade CO2 approach. He sponsored a bill in 2007 to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2050.

OIL USE

McCain wants United States to be independent from foreign oil by 2025. Obama would reduce overall oil consumption by at least 35 per cent - or 10 million barrels per day - by 2030, to offset imports from OPEC nations.

ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Obama opposes Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling. McCain wants more offshore oil drilling, does not support ANWR drilling "at this time."

ENERGY RESEARCH

Obama wants to invest $150 billion over 10 years on low-carbon energy sources, double R&D spending on biomass, solar and wind resources; accelerate commercialization of plug-in hybrids, invest in low-emissions coal plants.

McCain proposed offering a $300 million prize to the auto company that develops a next-generation car battery that will help America become independent from oil. He would commit $2 billion annually to advancing clean-coal technology.

VEHICLE FUEL ECONOMY

Obama would double fuel economy standards in 18 years; give automakers tax credits to retool plants and invest in advanced lightweight materials and new engines.

McCain has not specified Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) targets. He voted against energy amendments in 2003 that would have boosted CAFE to 40 mpg by 2015. He supports increasing fines for car companies that do not meet CAFE standards and wants to provide tax credits based on vehicles' carbon emissions.

ELECTRICITY

Obama wants to require U.S. utilities to get 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2025.

McCain wants to reduce red tape to increase investment to upgrade the national grid; he wants the grid to have the capacity to charge electric cars on a mass scale and supports the use of SmartMeter technologies, which give customers a more precise picture of their energy consumption and encourage more cost-efficient use of power.

SOURCES: US Chamber of Commerce, individual campaign websites

(Compiled by Ayesha Rascoe and Chris Baltimore; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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