Obama calls for end to foreign oil dependence in 10 years

August 5th, 2008 - 7:33 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Barack Obama
Washington, Aug 5 (DPA) Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama called on the United States to end its dependence on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 years as part of a broad speech laying out his energy plans on Monday. Obama, who celebrated his 47th birthday Monday, said he would direct the “full resources” of government towards promoting renewable energy sources, investing $150 billion over the 10-year period.

“Breaking our oil addiction is one of the greatest challenges our generation will ever face. It’s gonna take nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy,” Obama said in Michigan, home to the nation’s largest auto manufacturers.

Obama challenged struggling automakers in the US to retool towards more fuel-efficient cars in the face of surging petrol prices that have led to slumping sales of sports utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

General Motors Corp last week reported a $15.5-billion loss in the second quarter and a 27-percent drop in July auto sales on a year earlier.

Obama called for 150 million plug-in hybrid vehicles to hit the roads by 2015 and said he would aim for 10 percent of energy to come from renewable sources by the end of his first term in office.

US consumers have been reeling from an economic slowdown and rising petrol prices that have become a focal point of the election campaign between Obama and his Republican rival John McCain.

McCain, who advocates energy independence by 2025, has called for lifting a moratorium on oil drilling off the coast of the US to reduce the immediate pressure on global crude oil prices and expanding the country’s use of nuclear energy. He has repeatedly hammered Obama for refusing to do the same.

“Anybody who says that we can achieve energy independence without using and increasing these existing energy resources either doesn’t have the experience to understand the challenge we face or isn’t giving the American people some straight talk,” McCain said in Pennsylvania Monday.

But Obama repeated a pledge - first made last week - that he would support expanded oil drilling as part of a wider compromise on energy that is making its way through Congress.

The Illinois senator also called on the US to release some oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to help reduce prices and advocated an immediate $1,000 tax rebate for consumers, paid for by a windfall-profits tax on US oil companies that have reported record profits this year.

McCain urged Congress to return from a five-week summer recess in order to fast-track a deal on energy relief for consumers. The Arizona senator said he was prepared to leave the presidential campaign trail to help get a solution through the legislature.

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