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Obama calls for tapping into strategic oil reserves

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  • NEW: Obama says oil addiction is one of most dangerous threats nation has faced
  • Obama says we can eliminate need for oil from Middle East, Venezuela in 10 years
  • Obama campaign releases new ad connecting John McCain to big oil
  • McCain, Obama have both received contributions from oil and gas industry
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(CNN) -- Barack Obama on Monday called for tapping into strategic oil reserves as part of his plan to provide relief from high gas prices.

Barack Obama says he has a plan to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil.

Barack Obama says he has a plan to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil.

Obama has previously said he was opposed to using the strategic reserves, but on Monday he proposed selling 70 million barrels of oil from the reserves in order to lower gas prices.

Speaking before a crowd in Lansing, Michigan, the senator from Illinois said the country's "addiction to oil ... is one of the most dangerous and urgent threats this nation has ever faced."

Obama unveiled his energy plan, which includes a windfall profits tax on big oil corporations that would be used to provide a $1,000 rebate to people struggling with high energy costs.

"You won't hear me say this too often, but I couldn't agree more with the explanation that Sen. McCain offered a few weeks ago. He said, 'Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been 30 years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long term about the future of the country,' " Obama said.

"What Sen. McCain neglected to mention was that during those 30 years, he was in Washington for 26 of them. And in all that time, he did little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Obama said.

The Democratic presidential candidate said he wants to eliminate the need for oil from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 years. See what goes into oil prices »

"To do this, we will invest $150 billion over the next decade ... and leverage billions more in private capital to build a new energy economy that harnesses American energy and creates 5 million new American jobs," he said.

Obama outlined three steps he'd take to meet that goal:

  • Build fuel-efficient cars and have one million 150 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on the roads within six years
  • Require that 10 percent of the country's energy come from renewable sources by the end of his first term
  • Call on businesses, government and the American people to meet the goal of reducing the demand for electricity 15 percent by the end of the next decade.
  • "So there is a real choice in this election -- a choice about what kind of future we want for this country and this planet," Obama said.

    McCain on Monday said Obama's "misguided policies would result in higher energy costs to American families and businesses and increase dependence on foreign oil."

    One of the differences between McCain and Obama on energy is that McCain is in favor of exploring options for offshore drilling.

    Obama has spoken against offshore drilling, but last week he said he would be willing to compromise if it were part of a more overarching strategy to lower energy costs.

    McCain said offshore drilling is a "vital part" of dealing with the energy challenge.

    "We have to drill here and drill now -- not wait and see whether there's areas to explore, not wait and see whether there's a package that needs to be put together, but drill here and drill now," McCain said.

    Obama said that McCain thinks the country can "drill our way out of this problem. He reiterated his charge that McCain has ties to big oil -- saying "he raised more than $1 million from big oil just last month."

    The Obama campaign made that accusation in a television ad released Monday. Video Watch the ad »

    McCain surrogate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney blasted the ad as being "dishonest."

    "That's really sad," he said on CNN's "American Morning." "I didn't know that Obama had stooped to dishonesty." Video Watch Romney call Obama 'dishonest' »

    Romney said it was dishonest because corporations cannot give contributions to candidates and because employees of oil companies have also donated to Obama.

    The Washington Post reported that McCain received $1.1 million from oil and gas industry executives and employees in June -- three-quarters of which came after he called for lifting the ban on offshore drilling on June 16.

    Obama's ad sources the Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics, which showed that Obama has received about $345,000 from the oil and gas industry this year.

    Meanwhile, the McCain campaign made fun of Obama's energy proposal Monday by distributing tire pressure gauges reading "Obama's energy plan" to McCain's traveling press corps.

    The gag was meant to mock Obama's remark last week that "making sure your tires are properly inflated" could help conserve gasoline.

    McCain supporters in Michigan distributed the same gauges at Obama's energy speech in Lansing.

    The campaign also blasted Obama for his apparent shift on strategic oil reserves.

    Obama last month said he did not think the country should use the strategic oil reserves "at this point."

    "I have said and, in fact, supported a congressional resolution that said we should suspend putting more oil into the strategic oil reserve, but the strategic oil reserve I think has to be reserved for a genuine emergency," he said on July 7.

    McCain's campaign said that Obama's stance was strictly political, not sound policy.

    In a conference call before Obama's speech, his campaign said Obama looked at the issue and "he recognizes that Americans are suffering."


    Obama's address in Lansing comes as he kicks off "Energy Week" -- with stops planned in Ohio and Indiana where gas prices and rising heat bills will be on the agenda. Video Watch more on Obama's new energy plan »

    McCain is spending Monday focusing on small business while in Pennsylvania. He'll turn his attention to energy at an event in Michigan this week. On Tuesday, he'll visit the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant outside Detroit for an event promoting his call for an increase in similar plants.

    CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Steve Brusk and Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

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