Stacey Allen Fitts: McCain’s energy know-how will help America

Posted Aug. 02, 2008, at 12 a.m.

With skyrocketing energy costs taking more and more out of Mainers’ paychecks, the need for a comprehensive plan to eliminate America’ s dependence on foreign oil is magnified. Our nation’ s security and prosperity depend on it.

John McCain recognizes that real problems require realistic, as well as ambitious, solutions. Because there is no one silver bullet that will make America energy-independent, McCain has put forth a plan called the “Lexington Project” to lower energy costs, delivering short-term relief and long-term security in a comprehensive way.

For motorists who are struggling to fill up their gas tanks, McCain proposed a gas tax holiday. These savings would have put more money in the hands of consumers and given a shot in the arm to Maine’ s tourism-based economy.

McCain also knows that we have to expand our domestic energy sources. Under his plan, states would be able to decide whether to allow oil and gas exploration off their coasts. Enhanced domestic production will send a signal to markets that the United States is taking control of its energy future — translating into lower prices for American consumers.

Because green technologies represent a significant part of America’ s energy future, McCain supports making tax credits available to further encourage the development of alternative energy sources — including wind, solar and hydropower. True to his nature as a reformer, though, McCain will strive to equalize these incentives across sectors and then discontinue them when it becomes clear the technologies can stand on their own.

Clean coal and nuclear also figure prominently in McCain’ s bold call to make America energy- independent, and he is championing an effort to build 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030.

While John McCain recognizes that a multipronged solution is necessary to deliver real change in the way America powers its transportation, heats its homes and keeps its lights on, Barack Obama doesn’ t seem to appreciate the extent to which Americans are suffering. In stark contrast to McCain’ s diverse approach, Obama has instead simply said “no” — no to immediate gas tax relief, no to lifting the ban on offshore drilling, no to expanded nuclear power and no to a prize that rewards innovation in the area of car battery technology.

While Obama talks a lot about “change,” he does not have the experience to deliver when it comes to energy policy. Worse yet, on energy reform Obama’ s actions don’ t match his words after all, he did vote for George Bush’ s energy bill in 2005, with its grab bag of goodies for big oil and special interests. McCain opposed the bill.

McCain has the experience and judgment to know that a challenge as big as reforming America’ s energy policy requires vision and strong leadership. That’ s why he has proposed an ambitious agenda that calls for developing a broad range of domestic energy sources. McCain has a long record of putting our country first to make progress that benefits all Americans. He has long been unafraid to take on the special interests — teaming up with Democrats and Republicans — to bring real reform to how business is done in Washington.

Rep. Stacey Allen Fitts, R-Pittsfield, serves on the Legislature’ s Joint Standing Committee on Utilities and Energy.

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