LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Wednesday if elected he would set the United States on a path to wean itself from foreign oil by 2025, vowing to â€œbreak the power of OPECâ€ over Americans.
Calling U.S. dependence on increasingly costly foreign oil a â€œdangerous situationâ€ threatening the U.S. economy, McCain said: â€œStarting in the term of the next president, we must take control over our own energy future, and become once again the master of our fate.â€
McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, rivals in the November presidential election, are locked in a debate over how to deal with a mushrooming energy dilemma as Americans reel from $4-a-gallon gasoline that has helped push the U.S. economy to the brink of recession.
McCain in speeches this week and last has outlined plans to provide incentives for development of electric cars, encourage construction of new nuclear power plants, permit offshore oil drilling and invest in clean-coal technology.
â€œIn recent days I have set before the American people an energy plan. And let it begin today with this commitment: In a world of hostile and unstable suppliers of oil, this nation will achieve strategic independence by 2025,â€ he said.
President George W. Bush has never set a date for potentially reaching oil independence. Foreign oil supplies about 60 percent of U.S. oil demand — three out of every five barrels it consumes.
â€œTogether, we will break the power of OPEC over the United States. And never again will we leave our vital interests at the mercy of any foreign power,â€ McCain said, referring to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The Arizona senator had tough words for some governments in the Middle East, particularly Iran, as well as Venezuela and others which the United States relies on for oil.
â€œThese are some of the most stagnant and oppressive societies on Earth, held back by oil-rich elites who would not last long if their own people had a choice in the matter,â€ he said.
The Obama campaign launched a Web site, www.NewEnergyForAmerica.com, to outline differences between Obamaâ€™s plan and that of McCain.
Obama has accused McCain of pursuing â€œgimmicksâ€ that would do nothing to help Americans struggling with high prices and would deepen U.S. oil dependence, prompting the McCain camp to fire back that Obama is the â€œDr. Noâ€ of energy policy.
Obama would launch a $150 billion, 10-year plan aimed at creating millions of new jobs, boost the manufacturing base and develop climate friendly energy supplies.
McCain spoke in the gambling mecca of Nevada, a state where proposals to build a nuclear waste disposal site at Yucca Mountain have generated strong opposition.
Democrats charged that McCainâ€™s plan to build new nuclear plants would cause more waste to end up at Yucca Mountain.
â€œPresumably, Sen. McCainâ€™s energy plan would require shipping the waste from those new plants to Nevada,â€ said Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.