McCain: Drilling on U.S. coast key

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., accompanied by his wife Cindy, speaks to reporters during a tour of the Red Ribbon Ranch Oil Lease on Monday in Bakersfield, Calif. The Associated Press

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., accompanied by his wife Cindy, speaks to reporters during a tour of the Red Ribbon Ranch Oil Lease on Monday in Bakersfield, Calif. The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – 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.

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 has spoken favorably of one day 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.

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.