It’s this: "Fuck if I know, but if someone can build a better mousetrap, I’ll give them lots of money."
That’s not an energy policy; that’s a game show.
First of all, giving a $300 million prize 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 sounds nice, but the companies that are likely to do it are already working on it, because they stand to gain huge financial profits far exceeding $300 million, should they succeed.
Secondly, $300 million is nothing — nothing — compared to the $4 billion per-year tax break McCain has proposed giving to the 5 biggest oil companies (including $1.2 billion for Exxon Mobil alone) — companies which have absolutely every disincentive to see such a battery work.
Finally, McCain is no friend of alternative renewable energy:
* McCain voted against, and Obama voted for, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which, as USA Today noted, contributed to a dramatic increase in wind power generation: "The U.S. wind power grew 45% in 2007, the sharpest rise since the 1980s, as developers responded to a federal tax credit, a growing number of state renewable energy mandates and global warming concerns, the American Wind Energy Association said Thursday."
* In 2006, John McCain voted against a renewable energy tax credits including a 2006 proposal sponsored by Senator Jeff Bingaman that included a four year extension of the production tax credit. In addition, McCain supported the filibuster of the 2007 energy bill that sought to extend the production tax credit to 2011.
* McCain has repeatedly voted against renewable energy mandates, including a measure to require that renewable sources be used to produce at least 10 percent of the electricity sold by electric utilities by 2020, and a measure to require refiners to use 8 billion gallons of renewable fuels each year, by 2012. He also supported an effort to delay renewable fuel mandates and to allow states to opt out of the mandates.
* McCain has repeatedly opposed measures to provide tax credits to encourage investment in renewable energy technologies. For example, in 2007 he supported the filibuster of energy legislation that sought to have revoke $13.5 billion in tax cuts for the five largest oil companies and instead provide tax incentives for solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, wave energy and other renewable sources of energy. McCain was the only Senator to miss the vote on the bill, but his staff noted that he did, in fact, support the filibuster that eventually killed the proposal.
Obama is right, speaking about McCain’s gimmick today:
“After all those years in Washington, John McCain still doesn’t get it… I commend him for his desire to accelerate the search for a battery that can power the cars of the future. I’ve been talking about this myself for the last few years. But I don’t think a $300 million prize is enough. When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn’t put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win — he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people. That’s the kind of effort we need to achieve energy independence in this country, and nothing less will do. But in this campaign, John McCain offering the same old gimmicks that will provide almost no short-term relief to folks who are struggling with high gas prices; gimmicks that will only increase our oil addiction for another four years.”