NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 24, 2008

No matter which candidate is elected president in November, the energy policies proposed by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will increase costs for the average American, but other changes may not be as readily visible, experts say.

Under McCain or Obama energy plans, the prospect of higher energy prices, higher deficits, and higher gas prices are attributed to the fact that both candidates have proposed to intervene in energy markets in part by mandating and subsidizing more expensive sources of energy. 

While McCain and Obama support a shift away from dependence on foreign oil and promote the research and development of alternative transportation fuels, their approaches differ: 

  • McCain seeks to enforce the existing fuel economy standard for motor vehicles (currently 25 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks), while Obama wants to double the fuel economy standard.
  • McCain touts new oil and gas drilling off U.S. shores as a viable solution to the fuel fiasco, but not in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; Obama opposes additional drilling in protected areas.
  • McCain proposes building 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030; Obama believes the industry should first develop a safer means of disposing of nuclear waste before putting up new reactors.

Fossil fuels -- coal and natural gas -- are still the cheapest forms of energy available, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

One year into a new presidency would have no effect on people's lives, Burnett said.  Neither (candidate) has a draft energy law to present to Congress.  They've got general ideas out there about what they want to do.

Source: Lea Radick, "Fuel Costs Will Rise Under Any Future President, Experts Say," Medill Reports, July 24, 2008.

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