Tonight's debate featured a great question on the candidates approach to energy independence. Tom Brokaw asked John McCain if the strategy for achieving energy independence should be the government launching an Apollo/Manhattan Project or having 100,000 entrepreneurs working on energy solutions in their garages. McCain didn't really answer the question, saying that he favored the government getting involved and then handing it over to the private sector. It was not a good answer. I was interested in hearing Obama's answer but for some reason Brokaw didn't let him answer. I have heard most candidates say they favor an Apollo or Manhattan style project. I don't think this is the right approach, and so I dug up a few websites from Obama's positions on energy policy. Here is an excerpt from a speech he made back in February of 2006.
The federal government can help in two ways here. First, we can reduce the risk of investing. We already do this in a number of ways by funding projects critical to our national security. Energy independence should be no different. By developing an Energy Technology Program at the Defense Department, we can provide loan guarantees and venture capital to those with the best plans to develop and sell biofuels on a commercial market. The Defense Department will also hold a competition where private corporations get funding to see who can build the best new alternative-fuel plant. The Department can then use these new technologies to improve the energy security of our own military.
Since he began running for President Senator Obama has proposed having the Federal Government spend $150 billion over 10 years on strategic investments in clean energy projects. While $150 billion is not enough, I believe we need closer to $1 Trillion if we are to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil within 10 years, I do think his plan is a step in the right direction. Here is the link to their short, mid range, and long term energy plans followed by the paragraph on their $150 billion investment plan.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will strategically invest $150 billion over 10 years to accelerate the commercialization of plug‐in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, encourage energy efficiency, invest in low emissions coal plants, advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. The plan will also invest in America's highly‐skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the green technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world. All together these investments will help the private sector create 5 million new green jobs, good jobs that cannot be outsourced.