As we press up against the hard geological limits of peak oil, the energy policies of the next administration will shape our future like no other. Will we lose another eight years? Will we lose another chance to seriously begin the transition to a renewable and sustainable future? Our planet will only get one chance and the longer we wait to take decisive action, the more painful and uncertain that transition becomes.
One of my favorite financial wags jokes that the two candidates are just auditioning to be “captain of the Titanic” and the ongoing meltdown of our financial markets indicates that whoever is elected will have their hands tied by monumental fiscal problems inherited from the current occupant. However, on top of what amounts to a national bankruptcy, the next administration will no doubt be the first to face the energy trifecta of $200/barrel oil, natural gas shortages and price shocks, and an unstable and failing national electric grid.
With that cheery backdrop, I decided to take a serious look at the candidates proposed energy policies and attempt to make an apples-to-apples comparison. I found that both candidates have an “issues” link on their respective web sites that lead me to information about their energy policies. On Obama’s site I found an eight page pdf document that outlined his policies and proposals in great detail including quantifiable and date stamped goals. On McCain’s site I found a summary of what he calls the Lexington Project and the text of his speech on that topic. In his Lexington Project speech McCain commits to “achieve strategic [oil] independence by 2025”. Unfortunately, the U.S. consumes 25% of the world’s oil, and by 2025 the available global oil flows will have declined by well over 25%. In addition, McCain doesn’t define what strategic independence means, nor does he offer much in the way in detail on how he will achieve this independence.
In my opinion, Obama’s plan offers both breadth and considerable substance and begins to build the foundation for a sustainable energy future. In contrast, McCain’s plan offers little more than unsupported assertions, token statements of support for renewables, and campaign slogans. In it’s current form, it is a plan lacking in measurable and quantifiable goals and substance.
Click here to download a pdf file comparing the two plans