John McCain is putting money where his energy mouth is: he's just announced he's proposing a $300 million government prize for the successful development of a car battery that far surpasses existing technology. The prize haul is equal to $1 for every man, woman, and child in the country, which he says is "a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency."
If you're thinking about entering, the winning device should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs and have "the size, capacity, cost, and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars." Looking toward rewarding success in finding eco-autos, he's also promoting a Clean Car Challenge that will give US automakers with a $5,000 tax credit for every zero-carbon emissions car they develop and sell.
McCain says of the prize, "In the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure. From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success."
Get out of my dreams, get into my car? Perhaps.
Who's driving Barack Obama's "Pink Cadillac?" To find out,
Last summer Obama was on hand to cut the ribbon at the new VeraSun Energy ethanol processing plant. As a senator from Illinois, the country’s second largest corn-producing state, he delivered a full-throttle endorsement of ethanol as an alternative fuel.
He said that ethanol, “ultimately helps our national security, because right now we’re sending billions of dollars to some of the most hostile nations on earth.” Saying that US oil dependence, "makes it more difficult for us to shape a foreign policy that is intelligent and is creating security for the long term.”
McCain sharply disagrees on the corn-as-fuel plan as well as subsidies for it, saying, “we made a series of mistakes by not adopting a sustainable energy policy, one of which is the subsidies for corn ethanol, which I warned in Iowa were going to destroy the market.” Obama favors the subsidies, some of which inevitably wind up in the hands of the same oil companies he says should be subjected to a windfall profits tax.
Who's driving the better auto alternative? More ethanol? A prize for developing a better battery? Is either plan "Paradise by the Dashboard Light?"