Obama Proposes ‘Use It or Lose It’ Plan for Oil Companies

Posted October 15, 2008 at 3:27pm

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) has made his concern over foreign oil dependency no secret. He has laid out a comprehensive plan on his campaign Web site that outlines how he thinks the United States should become energy independent.

Though the topic of energy has been overshadowed by the failing economy in recent months, the Illinois Senator has long held that the U.S. needs to produce its own energy.

Obama plans to implement a “use it or lose it” plan when it comes to drilling for oil. He says oil companies have access to 68 million acres of land, including 40 million offshore, but that they don’t make use of it. Using more of this land, he says, could increase the supply of domestic energy and wean the nation off its reliance on the Middle East.

Early in his campaign, Obama claimed to be adamantly against offshore drilling, though his position has since shifted.

Over the summer he said he wasn’t completely against offshore drilling and that he would consider the idea if it would help the parties reach a compromise on energy issues. Even so, Obama says drilling will not solve the nation’s energy problems.

“We simply cannot pretend, as Sen. McCain does, that we can drill our way out of this problem,” Obama said, referring to his Republican rival for the presidency, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), in an August speech in Indiana. “Breaking our oil addiction will take nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy. It will take an all-hands-on-deck effort from America — effort from our scientists and entrepreneurs; from businesses and from every American citizen.”

While Obama agrees that nuclear energy is important, he is hesitant to expand its use before examining the security of nuclear fuel and waste. Obama is proposing a plan that will require 10 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025.

He says on his Web site that he will “establish a 10% federal renewable portfolio standard to require that 10% of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from clean, sustainable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal by 2012.”

Obama says this will create more jobs while also investing in renewable resources. “I will put the full resources of the federal government and the full energy of the private sector behind a single, overarching goal,” he says. “In 10 years, we will eliminate the need for oil from the entire Middle East and Venezuela.”