McCain touts energy conservation and oil exploration


Republican presidential candidate John McCain will call on Tuesday for energy conservation and the lifting of a ban on oil and natural gas exploration as two ways to help address the nation's "dangerous" dependence on foreign oil.

McCain, an Arizona senator who has wrapped up his party's presidential nomination, has made energy independence and fighting climate change key components of his bid for the White House.

Rising oil and gasoline prices have put energy concerns at the center of the contest between McCain and presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama to succeed President George W. Bush after the November election.

McCain says energy prices will continue to rise, according to the text of a speech he was set to give later on Tuesday.

"Various oil ministers and investment firms have confidently informed us that soon we can expect to pay $200 for every barrel, and as much as $7 for every gallon of gas," he will say.

Cutting back on energy usage — a key strategy of Europe's efforts to fight global warming — was critical in the United States, McCain will say.

"In the face of climate change and other serious challenges, energy conservation is no longer just a moral luxury or a personal virtue," he will say. "Conservation serves a critical national goal."

McCain describes U.S. energy security as a "dangerous situation" in the speech and calls for a reform of laws and regulations that govern the oil futures markets to make the rules more effective.

McCain says the United States has 21 billion barrels of proven oil reserves which are not being tapped because of a federal moratorium on exploration and production.

"I believe it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use," he will say. "We can do this in ways that are consistent with sensible standards of environmental protection."