Monday, June 23, 2008

Boxer, Capps, blast McCain


As presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain made his way into Santa Barbara yesterday for two days of fundraisers and speeches, Rep. Lois Capps and Sen. Barbara Boxer blasted the 71-year-old Republican for his proposal to lift a federal ban on offshore oil drilling.
Calling McCain’s proposal a “gimmick,” the two lawmakers lambasted him for falling in line with the Bush Administration on energy policy, and “flip-flopping.”
“Even when it comes to the offshore drilling ban John McCain was for the ban before he was against it,” Capps said during a teleconference yesterday with reporters. “It’s unfortunate that [McCain] has decided to mimic the Bush Administration’s failed attempt to drill our way to energy independence.”

In a speech last week, McCain said he is in favor of squashing a more than 20-year moratorium on offshore drilling. Should the federal ban be lifted, states would have the authority to decide whether or not to permit expansion.
In Santa Barbara, where the sting of the 1969 Union Oil Co. spill is still a fresh nightmare in the minds of many, the prospect of ending the ban has prompted protests, which are expected to spill onto the steps of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History this morning, where McCain will deliver an, “environmental briefing.”
Hannah Eckberg, vice president of Get Oil Out, which was formed in response to the 1969 spill, said with global climate change, the question of oil and expanded offshore drilling impacts more than just those living on the coast.
“We are not just saying ‘not in our backyard,’” Eckberg said. “For this is an issue about global warming, and the long-term energy path our country is going to take. We are at a decisive point in history, and must make important decisions about our energy consumption.”
A bulletin urging Sen. Barack Obama supporters to protest McCain’s Santa Barbara appearance appeared on the Democratic presidential nominee’s Web site.
McCain’s drilling proposal comes at a time when the national average price for a gallon of gasoline is above at $4, and appears to suggest drilling will somehow alleviate the pain experienced at the pump. But Capps disagrees.
She said even the Bush Administration, which joined McCain in his call to lift the ban, has admitted any drop in the price of gasoline as a result of drilling wouldn’t reach consumers until 2030.
Also, Boxer said large oil companies currently have available 6,000 offshore leases they could probe for oil, but have so far refused to do so.
“Why would we now give them more leases when they’re not doing what they can now to increase supply,” she said.
Capps and Boxer said any benefit gained by offshore oil drilling would be greatly offset by the threat to the multi-billion coastal economies that rely on an unspoiled coastline.
“It’s a phony answer to a problem,” Boxer said of McCain’s proposal. “[He’s] going about it in the same old way. Drill, drill, drill.”
Instead of more oil drilling, Capps said the next U.S. president needs to focus on alternative fuels and not simply decreasing the country’s dependence on foreign oil, but decreasing the dependence on oil altogether.
“Obama believes we can’t drill our way out of this crisis,” Capps said. “We need real solutions not gimmicks.”
Capps said one example of a real solution would be to provide incentives for Americans to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles. She said just such a bill has gone before the Senate twice in the past eight months, and McCain voted against it both times.
However, in a speech in Fresno yesterday, McCain called for more extensive research into renewable energy. He even said as president, he would offer a $300 million award to the first person that invents a battery package that can replace the already available plug-in hybrids and electric cars.
“This is one dollar for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency — and should deliver a power source at 30 percent of the current costs,” McCain said.
Capps and Boxer said this too is a gimmick, similar to McCain’s proposal a couple of months ago to enact a “gas tax holiday,” which would have temporarily suspended the federal tax on gasoline.
McCain also said he believes, “Innovation in the use of alternative fuels in transportation presents the greatest opportunity for energy independence.”
Though it’s not exactly clear how this message gels with the senator’s call for expanded offshore oil drilling, Capps said it’s just one more conflicting statement from the Republican presidential presumptive nominee.
“It’s hard to keep up with all the different policy stances John McCain’s flip flopped on recently,” Capps said. “Especially when it comes to energy and environment issues.”
McCain will be at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History at 7:30 a.m. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has endorsed McCain for president but last week said he disagrees with his call to lift the ban on offshore oil drilling, announced yesterday he will join McCain in Santa Barbara. Also expected to participate in this morning’s event are Former CIA Director James Woolsey, Executive Director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County Mike Feeney and UC Santa Barbara professor and founder of the Institute of Energy Efficiency Matt Tirrell.


Dan Seibert said...

Lois Capps actually called John McCain a flip flopper? Well, I guess we're all guilty of that. Lois made a promise to only serve three terms. Flip flopper. And I voted for her in the past, but will never again. Flip flopper me.

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