Republican VP candidate pushes oil over clean tech

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin bolsters McCain camp's support for more domestic oil and natural gas drilling, sharpening differences with Obama's energy policies.

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Wednesday called for more domestic oil and natural gas drilling, pulling the McCain ticket further from the clean-tech industry.

In her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Palin touted her accomplishments in laying more pipelines and creating more competition among oil companies as governor of Alaska.

Alaska governor Sarah Palin

If elected, she said that a McCain-Palin administration would tap more oil and gas from Alaska, while investing in nuclear energy and so-called clean coal, where pollution is stored underground at coal power plants.

"We Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas. And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: we've got lots of both.

Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems - as if we all didn't know that already.

But the fact that drilling won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all," she said.

McCain, too, has called for more domestic oil and gas production but has opposed drilling in Alaska's North Slope. He advocates a massive increase in nuclear power, with the goal of building 45 new reactors by 2030.

In policies generally favored by the clean-energy industry, McCain supports national cap-and-trade carbon emissions regulations and tax credits for people who purchase fuel-efficient cars. Both McCain and Palin promised investments in renewable sources of energy--solar, wind, and geothermal.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama also advocates tapping domestic natural gas reserves but has outlined more aggressive steps to promote alternative energy. As senator, he has voted for extending existing renewable energy tax credits, which McCain has not.

From Obama's speech last Thursday:

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars.

And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.

McCain on Wednesday gained the endorsement of two high-tech executives--former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Click on this image to get a summary of the presidential candidates' energy policies. New Energy Finance

Yet Obama's energy policies have garnered significant support from clean-tech investors and business people. High-profile clean energy investor Nancy Floyd endorsed Obama in her speech at the Democratic National Convention last week.

His campaign is backed by a group called Clean Tech and Green Business for Obama, a fund-raising and outreach group which has Dick Swanson, president and chief technology officer of solar manufacturer SunPower, on its board.

On Wednesday, research firm New Energy Finance published an analysis of Obama and McCain's energy positions and concluded that McCain's free-market ethos would dominate his energy policies, while Obama would seek a more active role in promoting the clean-energy industry.

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