Pants on Fire!
McCain's energy plan is a "single-answer proposition" — new domestic oil drilling.

Brian Schweitzer on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008 in

McCain energy plan not just more drilling

In a spirited oratory during the second night of the Democratic National Convention, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer — the animated guy wearing the bolo tie — attacked Sen. John McCain's energy plan as reliant on more domestic oil drilling.

"We can't simply drill our way to energy independence," Schweitzer said. "That single-answer proposition is a dry well. And here's why: America consumes 25 percent of the oil but has less than 3 percent of the reserves. You don't need a $2 calculator to figure that one out. There just isn't enough oil in America — on land or offshore — to meet America's full energy needs."

It is true that in recent months McCain has become a cheerleader for opening up new areas to offshore drilling.

But to summarize McCain's energy plan as a "single-answer proposition" based on more domestic oil production is inaccurate.

McCain's "all of the above" catch-phrase is a staple of speeches, meant to highlight that his energy plan calls not just for more domestic oil production, but also more nuclear power, coal and alternative energy exploration.

Even as he delivered a speech from an oil rig platform in the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 19, 2008, McCain stressed that more domestic oil drilling is only part of his energy plan.

"Solving our energy crisis requires an 'all of the above' approach," McCain said. "It will require aggressive development of alternative energies like wind, solar, tidal and biofuels. It also requires expanding traditional sources of energy like clean coal, nuclear power, and offshore drilling like that done on this rig."

Among McCain's proposals to achieve "strategic" energy independence by 2025:

• $5,000 tax credit to those who buy a zero carbon emission car.

• $300-million prize (one dollar for every person in the United States) for the development of a battery package "that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars."

• Tougher enforcement of federal standards on mileage requirements that automobile manufacturers' cars must meet.

• $2-billion annually to advance clean coal technology sources.

• 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030.

• Tax credits to encourage the market for alternative, low-carbon fuels such as wind, hydro and solar power "until the market transforms sufficiently to the point where renewable energy no longer merits the taxpayers' dollars."

Obama has countered that despite his campaign platitudes, McCain as a U.S. senator has "voted against renewable sources of energy, against biofuels, against solar power, against wind power, against an energy bill that — while far from perfect — represented the largest investment in renewable sources of energy in the history of this country." We looked at that Aug. 5 statement and ruled it Mostly True.

In 2005, McCain voted against a series of amendments to an energy bill that set higher goals for the use of renewable energy. One proposal required refineries to use 8-billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2012 and another required 10 percent of electricity sold by utilities by 2020 be produced by renewable energy. Both passed and were included in the final bill, which McCain voted against.

The Obama campaign cites McCain's vote against the 2005 energy bill, which was signed into law by President Bush, as evidence of him voting against wind power. McCain did vote against the measure, in part because he thought a federal tax credit for alternative energy production was too generous and not cost-effective.

But McCain voted in favor of a 1992 energy law that required some government agencies to begin using vehicles that ran on alternative fuels and authorized more than $500-million in Energy Department research on renewable energy.

And in 2002, McCain and Democratic Sen. John Kerry pushed a plan to raise mileage standards for cars. The effort failed.

Some may argue that McCain's plan doesn't do enough to develop alternative fuels, or that his plan for new domestic oil drilling perpetuates the country's dependence on oil, but that doesn't mean McCain's energy plan is "a single-answer proposition" built around new oil drilling. It clearly is not. In fact, McCain's energy plan includes many provisions that have nothing to do with drilling. Schweitzer's claim isn't just false, it's ridiculously so. Our ruling is Pants on Fire!