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McCain calls U.S. dependence on foreign oil dangerous

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  • NEW: Sen. John McCain vows U.S. will achieve strategic independence by 2025
  • McCain proposes looking to nuclear power, exploring U.S. gas reserves
  • Sen. Barack Obama has called McCain's energy plans "gimmicks"
  • Polls show Obama with sizable lead over McCain
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(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain vowed Wednesday to break the partisan deadlock on energy policy, saying the dependence on foreign oil puts the U.S. in a "dangerous situation."

"When we buy foreign oil, we are enriching some of our worst enemies," he said in Las Vegas, Nevada.

McCain said that if he were to become president, he would put the country "on a course to energy security."

"Three decades of partisan paralysis on energy security is enough. Since I am not president, I cannot say the buck stops here, but I will say that it must stop now," he said. Video Watch McCain pledge to end the gridlock »

McCain said he would "authorize and support new exploration and production of America's own oil and gas reserves, because we can't outsource the solution to America's energy problem."

McCain proposed lifting the ban on offshore drilling last week as part of his plan to reduce dependence on foreign oil and help combat rising gas prices.

Officials from many coastal states oppose offshore drilling because of the risk of oil spills. Environmentalists want to stop offshore drilling to protect oceans and beaches from further pollution.

McCain also recommended looking at nuclear power, calling it a "long-neglected source of energy."

The senator from Arizona reiterated his push for a car battery that would move vehicles away from running on gasoline. He has proposed a $300 million reward for the development of a battery that far surpasses existing technology.

"America's dependence on foreign oil was a troubling situation 35 years ago. It was an alarming situation 20 years ago. It's a dangerous situation today. And starting in the term of the next president, we must take control over our own energy future and become once again the master of our fate," he said.

"In recent days, I have set before the American people an energy plan. ... And let it begin today with this commitment: In a world of hostile and unstable suppliers of oil, this nation will achieve strategic independence by 2025." Video Watch McCain describe his energy plan »

In addition to new production and nuclear plants, McCain said that as president, he would perfect clean coal, improve the electricity grid and support new technologies that move the country away from fossil fuels.

On Tuesday, his campaign called Sen. Barack Obama the "Dr. No on energy security."

"Today, it was 'no' on the $300 million for a new kind of battery. Before, it was 'no' on ... the possibility of further exploration off our coasts. It was 'no' on gas tax relief that can help -- this summer -- families that are hurting. It was 'no' on expanded nuclear power investments that we can make. We think we are seeing a pattern here," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said.

Obama wrote off McCain's energy plans as "gimmicks" that would "only increase our oil addiction for another four years." Video Watch what Obama says about McCain's proposals »

"What Washington has done is what Washington always does: It's peddled false promises, irresponsible policy and cheap gimmicks that might get politicians through the next election but won't lead America toward the next generation of renewable energy," Obama said in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

"For decades, John McCain has been a part of this failure in Washington."

Obama said his energy plan would include taxing profits from oil companies and using that money to help families pay their energy bills.

He also said he would "close the loophole that allows corporations like Enron to engage in unregulated speculation that ends up artificially driving up the price of oil."

Obama said he would raise the fuel standards and invest $150 billion over the next 10 years in alternate sources of energy.

"My entire energy plan will produce three times the oil savings that John McCain's ever could -- and what's more, it will actually decrease our dependence on oil while his will only grow our addiction further," he said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, polls suggest that Obama holds a sizable lead over McCain in the general election matchup.

Obama leads McCain 49 percent to 37 percent in a head-to-head matchup, according to the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll. But when third-party candidates Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are added to the list, Obama's lead over McCain extends to 15 percentage points, 48 percent to 33 percent.

The poll surveyed 1,115 registered voters and was conducted Thursday through Monday. It carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The survey is the second in a matter of days to indicate McCain may face a sizable deficit as the general election campaign kicks off. A Newsweek poll released four days ago showed the senator from Illinois with a 15-point lead.

According to a CNN analysis of five recent national surveys, Obama holds a lead of 8 percentage points over his presidential rival.


McCain said Tuesday that he's comfortable being the underdog.

"This is a tough race. We are behind; we are the underdog. That's what I like to be," he said at a fundraiser in Newport Beach, California.

CNN's Alex Mooney contributed to this report.

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