Green Campaign Watch: McCain's $300M Clean Car Prize, Hansen & Friedman's Oil Rants

John McCain upped the ante for greening the U.S. transportation fleet today by offering big bucks for a next-gen car battery. Which one of the startups that we’ve covered could be in the running — Firefly, A123Systems, Altairnano? Meanwhile the importance of the next president with regards to the politics of energy and global warming cannot be overstated, as NASA climatologist James Hansen said before a Congressional hearing and Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times today.

  • Speaking in Fresno, Calif., White House hopeful McCain said he wants to create a $300 million prize for an automotive battery “that has the size, capacity, cost, and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.” Critics are already calling the prize a “gimmick,” likening it to McCain’s proposed gas tax holiday. McCain also wants to offer a $5,000 tax credit for consumers on zero-emissions vehicles as part of a “Clean Car Challenge.” The stick to McCain’s incentive-laden carrot is stricter enforcement of existing fuel efficiency standards, but he was vague about what such a crackdown would mean for automakers.

    The McCain campaign released the above ad online today, which pushes McCain’s plan.

  • The next president will have to lead the nation’s fight to mitigate global warming lest it truly become too late, said NASA climatologist James Hansen in his testimony before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming today. Hansen also accused big oil execs of high crimes against humanity. It was 20 years ago that Hansen first sounded the global warming alarm, telling Congress in unequivocal terms that something must be done.
  • And in an op-ed, NYT columnist Thomas Friedman offers up what he believes should be the next president’s energy policy:

    Oil is poisoning our climate and our geopolitics, and here is how we’re going to break our addiction: We’re going to set a floor price of $4.50 a gallon for gasoline and $100 a barrel for oil. And that floor price is going to trigger massive investments in renewable energy — particularly wind, solar panels and solar thermal. And we’re also going to go on a crash program to dramatically increase energy efficiency, to drive conservation to a whole new level and to build more nuclear power. And I want every Democrat and every Republican to join me in this endeavor.

    Friedman likened President Bush’s call for more domestic oil exploration to the pleas of crack dealer. After diagnosing America as “addicted to oil, Friedman writes, Bush’s plan seems to be “Get more addicted to oil.”