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US Presidential Candidates Clash on Energy, Environmental Issues

With gasoline prices rising sharply in the U.S. this election year, the presidential contenders are both touting alternative energy plans. Senator John McCain advocates nuclear power and market incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while Senator Barack Obama pushes government support for alternative energies such as cellulosic ethanol. VOA's Kent Klein narrates for producer Leta Hong Fincher.

Both presidential candidates agree on the need for new technologies to curb carbon emissions responsible for climate change. These include solar and wind power and electric cars.

Presumed Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, supports government funding for clean coal technology. "Our coal reserves are larger than Saudi Arabia's supply of oil," McCain said.

McCain's Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, backs subsidies for biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol made from wood chips. "When I'm president, I'll set a goal to produce the first two billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2013," Obama said.

Overall, McCain favors business incentives and Obama, government investment.

And the candidates differ over nuclear energy and offshore oil drilling, which McCain supports and Obama opposes.

The Republican National Committee has launched an ad attacking Obama's energy proposals:

Ad: "Barack Obama? For conservation, but he just says 'no' to lower gas taxes, 'no' to nuclear, 'no' to more production, 'no' new solutions."

And Obama's campaign has responded with a counterattack.

Ad: "McCain will give more tax breaks to big oil. He's voted with Bush 95 percent of the time. Barack Obama will make energy independence an urgent priority."

Global energy analysts say both presidential candidates promise alternative energy they cannot yet fully deliver. Divya Reddy is with Eurasia Group, a business and politics-consulting firm in New York.

"The technology is just not there right now to make it commercial on the scale that everyone is envisioning," Reddy said.

Still, whichever one wins the White House, each promises to make the fight against climate change a priority.