The Annenberg Center’s FactCheck.org finds Senator Obama’s latest ad on energy to be “straining a point”:
As an example of Obama’s supposed grasp of 21st-century security threats, the ad says he will “fast-track alternatives so we stop spending billions on oil from hostile nations.” Pictured on screen are images of whirling windmills generating electricity, a solar array against a blue sky, and a couple of white-coated lab workers, one of them peering into a microscope.
The campaign says the ad is referring to Obama’s long-standing proposal to spend $150 billion over 10 years for research into alternative energy – “to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial-scale renewable energy, invest in low-emissions coal plants, and begin the transition to a new digital electricity grid.”
Spending that money may well be a good idea, but it’s not our place to judge. We do object to implying that a decade-long program, which in all probability could not even begin until sometime in late 2009, is a “fast track” to anything.
We also point out that even over the long term there can be no guarantee that just spending more for research will produce the sort of new fuels, vehicles or other breakthroughs that would actually reverse the growth of oil imports. Keep in mind that the U.S. imported the equivalent of 13.4 million barrels of oil per day last year, up nearly 17 percent from just five years earlier and 32 percent higher than in 1997. This is a huge problem that has been getting worse for a long time. Reversing it will not be “fast” or painless.