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The weathermen

"The weathermen" Continued...

Issue: "Northern light," Sept. 20, 2008

But McCain's call for tapping U.S. oil supplies is not comprehensive. He remains opposed to drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a position that puts him at odds with much of the Republican base and even his own running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. McCain's defense: "ANWR is a pristine place, and if they found oil in the Grand Canyon, I don't think I'd drill in the Grand Canyon."

Many residents of Alaska believe a shift in McCain's position is only a matter of time now that their governor has joined the ticket. Palin, whose reputation as an unbending bulldog is outdone only by her penchant for winning political debates, is a fierce advocate of drilling in ANWR. She says the environmental impact would be minimal, effectively equivalent to a person sticking their big toe into the yard of a typical residential lot.

Having Palin in his ear could move McCain in more ways than one on environmental issues. She led Alaska into suing Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne last month over the Bush administration's decision to list polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Palin believes the listing unnecessary and detrimental to oil and gas development on the state's North Slope.

On the record

Climate change

Obama: Proposes cutting greenhouse-gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 with an economy-wide cap-and-trade program.

McCain: Proposes cutting greenhouse gas emissions 66 percent by 2050 with a cap-and-trade program; small businesses would be exempt.

Domestic drilling

Obama: Considers drilling an environmental detriment that cannot solve energy problems, but has grudgingly halted his opposition to it in light of the public's overwhelming support; still opposes drilling in ANWR.

McCain: Favors drilling offshore due to high gas prices; still opposes drilling in ANWR, but has stated he will "go back and look at it again" due to "this changed economic environment."

Alternative energy

Obama: Proposes spending $150 billion over the next decade to promote development of clean energy and to create 5 million jobs; open to nuclear power as part of the solution but opposes storing waste at Yucca Mountain.

McCain: Proposes building 45 new nuclear plants by 2030 and reopening Yucca Mountain for storage of the waste; plans to auction off emissions permits and use the proceeds to fund the development of low-carbon technologies.

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