McCain, Schwarzenegger Push Energy Agendas in Santa Barbara

(l-r) James Woolsey, Michael Feeney, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Calif. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dean Matthew Tirrell. (Rod Rolle photograph)
(l-r) James Woolsey, Michael Feeney, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Calif. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dean Matthew Tirrell. (Rod Rolle photograph)

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain appeared recently in Santa Barbara to lay out his energy agenda, appearing at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History with a panel that included Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, UC Santa Barbara Dean of Engineering Matthew Tirrell, former CIA director James Woolsey, and Michael Feeney, executive director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. McCain made an initial statement which covered his views on energy, then listened to each of the panelists’ statements and engaged in some give-and-take with each.

McCain’s energy plan includes support for wind, photovoltaic, solar (thermal), and nuclear energy sources, a cap-and-trade system for managing carbon emissions, $30 Billion of support over 15 years for “clean coal,” a $300Million prize for a “leapfrog” improvement in battery efficiency and cost for hybrid and electric cars, and tax credits to promote zero- or near-zero-emissions vehicles.

Dean Tirrell, founder of UCSB’s Efficiency, agreed with McCain that reducing energy demand should be a primary focus of any government action, but urged the candidate to look beyond the obvious and support economic incentives for a broader range of energy efficiency technologies. “There are a tremendous number of ways technology can contribute” to energy independence, Tirrell stated, mentioning research and development areas including semiconductor-based solid-state lighting, integrated building HVAC systems, and improved control systems at energy plants. “There are some tremendous opportunities to build great businesses pursuing energy efficiency,” he noted.

Governor Schwarzenegger pointed out California’s leadership position on energy and climate change issues, citing the state’s efforts as models for federal action. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel—we’ve done it all already in California,” he stated. The governor further noted, “What we’ve been missing… for a long time in the United States is a comprehensive energy policy.”

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