This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," August 9, 2008.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Up next on the "Journal Editorial Report," Barack Obama's energy agenda from renewables to rebates. We'll break it down and compare it to John McCain's.
Plus, is the Democratic stonewall on oil drilling finally giving Republicans an issue they can win on in November? A look at the races that could turn on the energy issue.
Case closed. We'll examine the evidence that led the FBI to declare Bruce Ivins the sole anthrax killer. Did they really get their man?
The "Journal Editorial Report" begins right now.
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama laid out his energy plan Monday kicking off a week-long focus on an issue that could well dominate the November elections.
Here with a closer look at what he is proposing, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor Dan Henninger, columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady, editorial page writer Joe Rago and Washington columnist Kim Strassel.
Let's take a look at some of what Barack Obama is proposing — a cap and trade program to reduce carbon emissions, a windfall profits tax on oil companies to pay for a $1,000 energy rebate for families, $150 billion over ten years in subsidies for alternative energy, a million hybrid cars on the road by 2015, a mandate that all new cars have flex-fuel capability, and more drilling only if packaged with alternative fuel subsidies.
Dan, that's a really long list, everything under the sun, so-to-speak. Let's assume it all passed or much of it passed. What would it do — would it reduce energy prices?
DAN HENNINGER, DEPUTY EDITOR & COLUMNIST: I really don't think so. I am glad we are having this conversation because gasoline is down to $4 a gallon. But people are upset about that. They want the price to come down. It is not going to happen overnight. You can't throw a switch and make it happens.
And if Barack Obama did all this that's the debate we should have. In my opinion his plan is loaded up heavily on renewables. I think the price of New Year actually might go up. Renewables are expensive.
GIGOT: Joe, they also are not in plentiful supply, wind and solar. What percentage of American energy do they now provide?
JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL PAGE WRITER: Alternative energy provides an about 7 percent of our current total energy supply, about 9 percent of electricity right now. The real problem with renewables is, you know, nobody really worships carbon here or there is no political conspiracy but right now they are inferior to fossil fuels and nuclear.
GIGOT: You mean they're less efficient and cost more to develop and the technology is not there to provide them with the kind of energy on a mass basis that you can do, for example, with nuclear power or coal or in terms of transportation oil? Is that what you are saying what you say inferior?
RAGO: Exactly. Inferior in the sense that they have less energy density. They have to be farther away from population centers. And we really have a lot of durable investment in fossil fuels right now. So switching over to something completely new, as Barack Obama says he wants to do — he says it will take nothing less than a complete transformation of the American economy. And, you know, that's pretty ambitious and pretty unrealistic.
GIGOT: But, Mary, $150 billion in subsidies for alternative fuels. Is that significant enough to prime the pump to get these technologies up to where they can compete with oil?
MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST: No one knows the answer to that. Of course, if the market is not putting its money there, it suggests it is not very promising.
The other problem here is that $150 billion is supposed to be paid for with a windfall profits tax on existing companies that extract fossil fuels, which we will be dependent upon for a very long time. You slap that tax on those companies, you are going to get less investment and less production. And as Dan says, I think that will, you know, make price go up, not down.
GIGOT: Kim, there is an idea that some people think is attractive that Obama has, people who love electric cars or the idea of electric cars. He says a million new electric cars by 2015. Is that possible? I know you are a big fan of the internal combustion engine. You may want to do...