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Obama slams McCain's energy policy

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Sen. Barack Obama says Sen. John McCain part of the "failure in Washington"
  • NEW: McCain camp calls Obama the "Dr. No of energy security"
  • McCain teams up with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Santa Barbara
  • Schwarzenegger has endorsed McCain; his wife, Maria Shriver, backs Obama
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(CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama blasted Sen. John McCain's energy plans Tuesday as "gimmicks," saying his policies "will only increase our oil addiction for another four years."

"What Washington has done is what Washington always does: It's peddled false promises, irresponsible policy and cheap gimmicks that might get politicians through the next election but won't lead America toward the next generation of renewable energy," Obama said in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"For decades, John McCain has been a part of this failure in Washington."

Obama commended McCain for speaking out on climate change but said that "time and time again, he has opposed investing in the alternative sources of energy that have helped fuel some of the very same projects and businesses that he's now highlighting in this campaign."

Obama praised McCain's push to develop a better car battery but added, "I've been talking about this myself for the last few years."

He also criticized McCain's proposal to offer a $300 million prize to whoever is able to develop a suitable battery.

"When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn't put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win -- he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people -- not just in the private sector but also in the public sector."

McCain's campaign said its plan would lead to both short-term and long-term benefits.

In a conference call after Obama's speech, McCain's campaign called the Democratic candidate the "Dr. No on energy security."

"Today, it was 'no' on the $300 million for a new kind of battery. Before, it was 'no' on ... the possibility of further exploration off our coasts. It was 'no' on gas tax relief that can help -- this summer -- families that are hurting. It was 'no' on expanded nuclear power investments that we can make. We think we are seeing a pattern here," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said.

Obama said his energy plan would include taxing profits from oil companies and using that money to help families pay their energy bills.

He also said he would "close the loophole that allows corporations like Enron to engage in unregulated speculation that ends up artificially driving up the price of oil."

Obama said he would raise the fuel standards and invest $150 billion over the next 10 years in alternate sources of energy.

"My entire energy plan will produce three times the oil savings that John McCain's ever could -- and what's more, it will actually decrease our dependence on oil while his will only grow our addiction further," he said.

McCain told voters Tuesday that energy efficiency "should begin at home" and proposed that the federal government purchase more environmentally friendly vehicles.

"Every year, the federal government buys upwards of 60,000 cars and other vehicles, not including military or law-enforcement vehicles," McCain said at an environmental roundtable in Santa Barbara, California.

"From now on, we're going to make those civilian vehicles flex-fuel-capable, plug-in hybrid or cars fueled by clean natural gas. If our great goal is to move American transportation toward lower carbon emissions, then it should start with the federal fleet."

McCain also proposed updating federal offices to be more efficient, a move that he said could "save taxpayers billions of dollars in energy costs."

The senator from Arizona teamed up with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his talks about energy efficiency and conservation.

Schwarzenegger, whose wife, Maria Shriver, has endorsed Obama, praised McCain for his ability to "reach across the political aisle ... and make things happen."

"I have every confidence that once Sen. McCain is in the White House, America will get back to a sensible, consistent and forward-looking energy policy," he said.

Schwarzenegger and McCain differ on the issue of offshore drilling, but the governor did not bring up the topic.

McCain proposed lifting the ban on offshore drilling last week as part of his plan to reduce dependence on foreign oil and help combat rising gas prices. Video Watch the plan McCain says will make the U.S. greener »

He said the federal government should provide incentives to states that permit offshore exploration, but he is against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, both McCain allies, changed their positions to be more supportive of the presidential candidate's plan.


Many officials from coastal states oppose offshore drilling because of the risk of oil spills. Environmentalists want to stop offshore drilling to protect oceans and beaches from further pollution.

Several dozen environmentalists demonstrated outside the Santa Barbara event Tuesday, chanting, "Get oil out," and holding signs saying, "Just say no to offshore drilling!"

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