To put it mildly, they differ - in some ways reflecting the general approach of their parties. First, McCain:
Sen. McCain argues that many of the steps are little more than subsidies that enrich special interests. He has long called for scrapping the federal ethanol tax credit, saying America's corn-ethanol industry can and should stand on its own. He has also voted against requiring electric utilities to boost their use of renewable energy sources, preferring to let cities and states set their own targets for renewable energy.
[Obama]'s promising to invest $150 billion over the next decade in alternative fuels such as cellulosic ethanol that can be made from materials such as switchgrass and wood chips. He'd push a requirement that the U.S. by 2025 get at least 25% of its electricity from renewable sources like the wind, the sun and geothermal energy (which together currently account for less than 1% of U.S. electricity supply).
Letting the market take care of itself is fairly common thinking on the Republican side of the aisle, though different from President Bush's approach, which was closer to Obama's in terms of investment in new technology. You'll note that Obama has a nicely defined list of renewable energy sources that doesn't include nuclear energy.
Writer Stephen Powers has it covered:
On nuclear power, Sen. Obama says he's open to expanding nuclear energy, which now provides 20% of the nation's electricity, as part of an effort to increase power sources that emit little or no carbon dioxide. But he also has said there is no future for expanded nuclear energy until the U.S. comes up with a safe, long-term solution for disposing of nuclear waste. He opposes the Bush administration's plan for storing waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
Sen. McCain has expressed support for the Yucca Mountain proposal. And while he opposes subsidies for many alternative-energy technologies, he wants bigger incentives for nuclear energy, arguing that the U.S. "will not succeed in achieving independence [from] foreign oil nor...in addressing seriously the issue of greenhouse-gas emissions" without expanding its use of nuclear power. Many environmentalists see his stance as inconsistent with his free-market rhetoric.
Who said A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds (hint: not Shakespeare) - or was it i before e except after c? If Obama really wants to compete here, he'll need to develop a plan. Without one, it would seem he would simply slipstream supporting Yucca Mountain into his budgets. Wouldn't annoy us, but we'll see.
Read the whole thing. It includes a chart which suggests we won't be getting anywhere without China.