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Published: Friday, 7/11/2008

Obama vows to break hold of 'tyranny of oil' in energy speech

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

DAYTON Calling it one of the most dangerous weapons pointed at America, presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama Friday vowed to break the hold the tyranny of oil has on America.

Tyrants from Caracas to Tehran use (oil) to prop up their regimes, intimidate the international communities, hold us hostage to a market that is subject to their whims, he said. You know, if Iran decided to shut down the petroleum-rich Strait of Hormuz tomorrow, they believe oil would skyrocket to $300 a barrel in minutes, a price that one speculator predicted would result in $12 a gallon gas - $12 a gallon.

Speaking to a crowd of about 1,300 at Stivers School for the Arts in downtown Dayton, the Illinois senator said the concentration of 83 percent of the world s oil reserves in the Middle East gives the unstable region and Osama bin Laden a weapon against the nation s economy.

Imagine that, the very source of energy that fuels nearly all of our transportation, controlled by some of the world s most unstable and undemocratic governments, he said. That s not the future I want for America. We are not a country that places our fate in the hands of dictators and tyrants. We are a nation that controls our own destiny.

He criticized Republican nominee-to-be John McCain for offering a plan that Mr. Obama argued doesn t offer enough investment in renewable fuels while pushing for a lifting of the ban on off-shore oil exploration.

When John McCain talks about failure of politicians in Washington to do anything about energy prices, John MCain should look in the mirror because he has been part of at the problem, he said.

Both senators oppose opening up Alaska s national wildlife refuge for drilling. Mr. Obama argued that expanding off-shore drilling would do little to reduce the price of gas at the pump.

Mr. McCain has actively called for construction of 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030 with a long-term goal of 100 plants. He has defended the safety of nuclear power in a state where the Davis Besse plant at Oak Harbor is still recovering from a 2002 scare involving a cracked reactor head.

Mr. Obama never mentioned nuclear power during his remarks, but when questioned about it later, he said nuclear power will be part of the mix. Unlike Mr. McCain, he offered no specifics.

Part of what I think we need to do is get the best experts in the field to develop plans to improve regulatory guidelines to give people confidence enough that their families won t be affected by a nuclear facility located close by , he said. Nuclear power is going to have to be part of the mix. I know some people don t like to hear this, but there s no perfect energy source I don t think we can eliminate any single source.

Both parties candidates have promoted versions of market-based cap-and-trade systems in which businesses would face lower air pollution limits but could buy and sell pollution credits like any other commodity.

Mr. Obama wants to spend $150 billion over 10 years to help develop renewable energy technologies, double auto fuel efficiency standards, and mandate that 25 percent of America s power to come from renewable sources by 2025.

Both candidates promote development of cleaner coal technology, especially in a coal-mining state like Ohio that relies on coal to meet nearly 90 percent of its electricity needs.

Rich James, owner of a Chevrolet dealership in Piqua north of Dayton, support s Mr. McCain s proposal to temporarily suspend the federal gasoline tax to reduce prices at the pump. He said gas prices have undermined consumer confidence and hurt his sales.

The little guy needs that help , he said. This tax relief would be significant help because they don t have other options.

Mr. Obama, however, characterized the proposal as a gimmick that would have little long-term effect while reducing funds needed for roads.

Contact Jim Provance at:

jprovance@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.



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