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McCain: Drill for Oil at Home

Instead of pushing new fuel alternatives, McCain called yesterday for an end to the federal ban on offshore oil drilling, offering an aggressive response to high gasoline prices and immediately drawing the ire of environmental groups that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has courted for months.

"We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil," McCain told reporters yesterday. In a speech today, he plans to add that "we have untapped oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. . . . It is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions."

McCain's announcement is a reversal of the position he took in his 2000 presidential campaign and a break with environmental activists, even as he attempts to win the support of independents and moderate Democrats. Since becoming the presumptive GOP nominee in March, McCain has presented himself as a friend of the environment by touting his plans to combat global warming and his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the Everglades.

Obama backs using money raised through an auction of greenhouse-gas emissions credits to bolster research and development projects, while imposing requirements on how much renewable energy public utilities would have to buy.

Yesterday in the down-at-the-heels manufacturing city of Flint, Mich., Obama said that a new energy policy must be part of government efforts to revive the economy.

Florida, which has strongly backed Republican candidates in recent past, will have some serious thinking to do. While they have touted drilling in ANWAR, it looks like the oil rigs may very well be visible now from their own homes. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist tells Buzz that he loves Sen. John McCain's idea to lift the federal moratorium on off-shore drilling and let individual states decide whether to allow oil and gas exploration. He also said he wouldn't rule out letting Florida opt to drill off-shore.


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