McCain restates support for offshore oil drilling |

McCain restates support for offshore oil drilling

Beth Fouhy
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left,accompanied by his wife Cindy, as he speaks to reporters during a tour of the Red Ribbon Ranch Oil Lease, San Joaquin Facilities Management Inc., Monday, July 28, 2008 in Bakersfield, Calif. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

BAKERSFIELD, California ” Republican John McCain said Monday that drilling for oil off the U.S. coast is an essential part of any plan to lower gas prices and reduce dependence on foreign sources, and he criticized Democrat Barack Obama for opposing it.

“We all know that a comprehensive solution is wind, tide, solar, all the other things all of us believe in,” McCain told reporters after touring San Joaquin Facilities Management, an oil company in the California desert that yields 1,100 barrels a day. “In the meantime, as we develop all of these alternate sources of energy, it will be vital that we continue oil production at a high level, including offshore drilling.”

McCain called Obama the “Dr. No” of energy. But McCain once was too.

Just last month, McCain reversed himself after years of opposition and called for lifting the federal ban on oil drilling off the U.S. coast. The Arizona senator promotes energy development as a way to boost the economy, and a recent poll found many voters are open to offshore drilling as a way to ease gasoline prices.

But McCain’s views could be troublesome in California, which has seen its share of catastrophic offshore oil spills. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a McCain ally, opposes such drilling and in a television interview indicated he would be open one day to serving as the “energy czar” in an Obama administration.

Obama opposes drilling in U.S. coastal waters, and says allowing exploration now wouldn’t affect gasoline prices for at least five years. Spokesman Hari Sevugan said Obama’s energy program would, among other things, force oil companies to drill in areas they’ve already leased from the government.

McCain also insisted the technology exists to quickly bring oil produced offshore to market, even as the federal government has estimated it would take years for new offshore oil exploration to yield results.

McCain has said governors should have the right to veto proposed drilling off their state coasts. Some, including Republican Charlie Crist of Florida, have said they would support such drilling.

Last week, McCain’s campaign scrapped a visit to an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Dolly bore down on Louisiana. The campaign cited weather for the cancellation, which also came after a Liberian tanker spilled 419,000 gallons (1,586,000 liters) of oil into the Mississippi River outside New Orleans.

At a campaign fundraising luncheon Monday, McCain said a comprehensive energy plan, including his proposal to suspend the federal gasoline tax for the summer, would bring the greatest relief to low-income citizens hardest hit by high gas prices.

McCain was in California to attend several fundraisers.

In San Francisco, he reiterated his support for an Arizona ballot initiative overturning the state’s affirmative action programs. And he straddled the question of whether he would support a California measure banning same sex marriage.

McCain said he opposed same sex marriage but believed it was up to states to establish marriage laws. Last month, the California Supreme Court cleared the way for gay couples to marry in the state.

“I do not believe what is decided in California should be imposed on my state of Arizona,” McCain said.

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