McCain - "The Lexington Project"

Have you seen this? McCain’s energy plan - The Lexington Project.

So, it sounds like he thinks he’s got a coherent plan good enough to give it a name and make it a centerpiece of his campaign.

In short, this is the plan:

On the supply side:
[li]Expand domestic production by allowing offshore drilling if the states permit it - but I don’t think he supports drilling in ANWR[/li][li]Get rid of the subsidy on corn ethanol, and drop the tariff on Brazilian sugar based ethanol.[/li][li]Build 45 new nuclear plants[/li][li]Unspecified tax credits for Wind, Solar, Geothermal, and other alternate energy sources.[/li][/ul]

Infrastructure and Technology
[li]A permanent R&D tax credit equal to 10% of wages spent on R&D.[/li][li]A 300 million dollar prize for a battery that can provide power for 1/3 the cost of current technology.[/li][li]Accelerate the conversion of half of new cars to flex-fueled engines[/li][li]A $5000 tax credit for any customer who buys a zero carbon emission car. Lesser tax credits for cars that emit carbon, with the credit decreasing the more carbon the car puts out.[/li][li]2 billion per year for research into clean coal.[/li][li]Reduction of regulations to encourage construction of new components of the power grid, including smart metering.[/li][li]A cap and trade system for carbon to force companies to invest in low carbon emission technologies.[/li][/ul]
it’s a little too interventionist for me, but by and large I find it to be a pretty realistic, fairly smart program. There’s a pretty good balance between support for the various energy sources, significant increases in R&D spending. I quite like the notion of pegging the tax credit to the percentage of your R&D labor. The old system of having to apply for specific grants and programs is a hassle, leads to too much paperwork and too high a barrier to entry for small companies, and makes the government responsible for picking winners and losers - a task it’s ill suited for. This way, you just document your workers’ time, and claim a tax credit.

And it’s nice to hear a politician speak out against the insane subsidies for corn-based ethanol in the States, and against tariffs against Brazilian sugar, a much more energy efficient source of ethanol. And we might even get good tasting Coke out of the deal, too. Obama supports higher subsidies for corn-based ethanol, and opposes removing the Brazilian sugar tariff.

45 nuclear plants sounds about right. I doubt you could build much more than that even if you tried. 45 might be a stretch within 22 years, but it’s a nice goal. Nuclear’s definitely got to be part of any rational energy program, and even with 45 new reactors the U.S. will still be making significantly less nuclear power as a percentage of its overall power consumption than France. You’ll probably need a lot more than 45 by the time you’re done, so you might as well start building them as fast as you can now.

So, what do you all think? A reasonable plan? How does it stack up against Obama’s?

He needs to lose the drilling. Also the title is insulting.

Seems to be a mismash of good, bad, and unclear policies. He should lose the drilling and, the $300 million prize is a weird gimmick that I believe has been covered elsewhere.

And while we should commence the construction of further nuclear power plants pronto, we should view them not as a solution, but as a hedge against unforeseen problems with scaling up the production of the clean, renewable solutions. Ideally, the number of active nuclear plants in the US should begin decreasing soon as we decommission old ones and replace their capacity with wind, solar, or geothermal. But if that proves infeasible, I’d rather we have new nuclear coming online than replacing them with fossil fuel plants.

Most of the price support for ethanol comes from the renewable fuel mandate, not the blending subsidy. Is he in favor of keeping that? If not, what’s the point of


The rest of your quoted points I basically agree with, but he also says

Which compares unfavorably with Obama’s more aggressive targets.

If McCain’s planning on putting real money into basic research & development, I fully support him. I’ve been saying for years that we have to face the fact that oil is a finite resource and we need to make plans for what we’re going to do when it runs low.

The downside is the possibility that this is just a big barrel of pork like SDI - a way to funnel billions of tax dollars to corporate supporters without actually producing any real results.

How so?

Because its only purpose is marketing?


Then it’s poorly conceived. The name of “Lexington” does not much resonate today even with Americans familiar with Revolutionary history. “The Lexington Project” sounds like either one more corporate-spawned sprawl development or some supervillain’s plot.

But it’s got an LX in it, so we all know the result must be pretty deluxe.

Parts of it seem pretty decent–which is hardly surprising. I still have to disagree with the drilling, though, and the 300 million dollar prize is gimmicky.

I don’t like the reliance on tax credits. They don’t help me to immediately afford something; instead, they reward me 3-4 months later for it. Which is nice and all, but reducing the price of the damn item in the first place would be a lot more likely to get me to buy it.

In other words, I think government subsidies would be more directly effective than offering a tax credit. Which is pretty interventionist/big government, but. . .hey, if they’re going to try to coerce a person into a decision, they might as well do it right.

I’d also like to see how, exactly, the R&D tax credit’d be applied. Is it just for R&D as regards particular technologies, or is it general R&D. Honestly, I’d want some regulation on what, exactly, applies for the tax credit (IE, projects aimed more towards scientific development rather than expanding into a niche market or something).

Not to be confrontational–I’m really not familiar with the topic–why is drilling bad?

Looks like a good program. I’m either neutral or positive on most of these proposals. But:

I’m with the other poster: ???

Does this take into account carbon used in production of the car? for instance, I don’t have the numbers but a huge electric SUV certainly has a lot of carbon emitted in the costs of production vs a tiny gas car?

I think that’s a bit too much until we get rid of the national debt.

Depends on the exact “reduction of regulations”. Some are good, some are bad.

I’m for this if it is very lightly implemented at first, in order to get the system in place so that it will be politically easier to ramp it up later. But right now, severely reduction targets would give a huge production advantage to China and others who are not doing this.

Also, it would have to be implemented so it doesn’t help those who already pollute and harm those who are already clean, by, for instance, taking your current pollution level and using it as a baseline target for reduction.

The drilling’s a nonstarter anyway.

What state-level politicians would sign up for the chance to foul their beaches? Even Jeb Bush, while he was governor of Florida, stood in the way of his brother’s interest in setting up offshore platforms.

Other than that, the plan isn’t half-bad. Definitely agree with the revocation of the corn/ethanol subsidy; that’s one of the more mystifying elements of Obama’s platform.

I always think it’s insulting when patriotic words or imagery are invoked as a marketing strategy (i.e. USA PATRIOT Act). It sets up a subtle implication than opposing or criticizing it would be anti-American. Plus it assumes that the public will just respond in a Pavlovian manner to anything that sounds patriotic. Doing this kind of thing with political policy or legislation is exactly the same as putting American flags all over the place at a used car lot. It’s done exactly for the same reason and with the same contempt for the customers.

At least McCain is brave enough to talk about nuclear energy in Nevada, home of the Yucca Mountain project. If we are serious about CAGW, it seems nuclear energy is a no-brainer.

This part is silly, unfortunately -

He’s right about coal, though -

I remember hearing Carter talk about the US as “the Saudi Arabia of coal”. And clean coal is something we can use while we get fusion up and running.

It is a reasonable mix of short-term and longer-term solutions - drilling in the short term, nuclear in the medium-, clean coal and so forth in the longer term.


I like his supply side options. I don’t think drilling is the answer, but I don’t feel a pressing need to restrict our drilling options. I’m also happy to get rid of fuel subsidies and tariffs.

On the tech side, I like the money going direct to R&D, I don’t like the prize, too gimmicky.

I do not like the idea of pushing individual technologies, like flexfuel or giving a tax credit for battery powered cars. The tax credit in particular is a bad idea. Chances are we’ll have folks lined up around the block to get the first workable zero emission car. You don’t need to give people incentives to buy one, all you’re doing is allowing the car companies to raise their prices since everyone will factor in the tax break into the cost of owning the car.

One thing I noticed, and I’m sure it’s true with Obama’s plan, is a lack of focus on reducing our usage of energy. Nothing about improving mass transit or encouraging people to conserve, just different ways to satisfy our need to drive and consume.

There’s potential for environmental impact, whether offshore or on land. Granted, today’s technology mitigates this. The real downside is that, relative to America’s annual rate of consumption, there’s really not that much oil to be found in ANWR or off the Florida coasts. In any case, this has been debated exhaustively in the following recent threads, among others:

The Oil Drilling Lie

Should Florida be opened to offshore oil drilling?

So, ARE The saudis Tapped Out? (Oil Production)?

I actually agree with all this. The cutesy name is annoying.

No plans should be predicated on the assumption that it will ever be possible to use controlled nuclear fusion as a power source. It might be, it might not be. Fund the research, but all means, but for Og’s sake don’t count on it.

I agree with that as well. Fusion is far too speculative to have as part of the planned mix of energy. We may never be able to make it cost effective. Or if we can, it might not be for another hundred years.

Well, it seems like Charlie Crist is all over the idea now.