McCain Team Energy Update

A blogger conference call was held today, hosted by McCain policy adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer, to discuss energy issues in election 2008. Nancy started off by stressing the need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and the impact of rising fuel prices on not only gas, but almost all goods owing to rising transportation costs. “It is irrational and irresponsible to ignore safe, known energy sources.” Congress is refusing to consider increases in domestic production, and she describes McCain’s approach as the equivalent of “the surge” on our energy challenges.

On the issue of nuclear power: Safe, clean energy which can be built on existing sites, expanding them, rather than only building on new sites.

Here’s a portion of the Q&A segment:

A question from Ed Morrissey: Will McCain change his mind on drilling in ANWR? Not at this time. The word “refuge” is in the name for a reason.

How can a president open up more opportunities for nuclear? Cap and trade will lower costs, making it more viable. Also, barriers to new nuclear plants will be lowered if we open Yucca mountain for the storage of waste products.

Would McCain look at an overhaul of the NRC? The Senator would consider any and all options to safely streamline the process, while ensuring that safety and environmental concerns were kept at the forefront.

There was also a discussion of how the McCain campaign would reach out to the auto industry as they shift to a new model of transportation and energy management. McCain will incentivise advancements in new technology to make it easier and more appealing to move forward. (See the battery prize, among other proposals.)

Someone suggested that “new science” was suggesting that carbon emissions were “not as much of a problem as we thought or not a problem at all” and asked if McCain would reconsider his cap and trade proposals. The answer, while very politely phrased, was that McCain has looked at the science, sees a need to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions and feels that cap and trade is one way to help achieve that goal. She also noted that the McCain plan would pass savings realized through cap and trade directly back to the public and into the economy, while the Obama plan would immediately spend the savings.

It was also noted that expanding domestic energy production across the board – in drilling, clean coal, nuclear and green technology – would create tens if not hundreds of thousands of new jobs. This is a side effect which should be of interest to those watching the recent employment figures and tumbling housing numbers.

There should be more in this series, and we’ll try to keep you up to date with any new information. NOTE: You can catch another perspective on the call from Hot Air.