AIKEN — Republican presidential hopeful John McCain said Monday the United States needs to reduce its dependence on troubled parts of the world for oil, and instead look to hydrogen and nuclear power as alternatives.
"Great nations don't leave the lifeblood of their economy in the hands of foreign cartels or bet their future on a commodity located in countries where authoritarians repress their people and terrorists find their main support," McCain told a crowd of about 200 people at the Center for Hydrogen Research in this early voting state.
"We're one successful attack away from an economic crisis," he added.
The Arizona senator said that more nuclear power had been stymied by politics.
"We've let the fears of 30 years ago, and an endless political squabble over the storage of nuclear spent fuel, make it virtually impossible to build a single new plant that produces a form of energy that is safe and nonpolluting," McCain said.
In addition to increasing financial incentives for companies that want to pursue nuclear energy programs, McCain also stressed the importance of recycling and safely storing nuclear waste. He noted the nearby former nuclear weapons complex, Savannah River Site, could help in that mission.
"The Savannah River Site would be an ideal location to demonstrate that recycling spent nuclear fuel is possible in the United States," McCain said.
In response to a question from an audience member, McCain said he thought offshore drilling should be left the coastal state closest to the proposed project. He also said he did not support opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
"ANWR is one of the pristine places in the world," McCain said. "I wouldn't drill in the Grand Canyon either, and I wouldn't drill in the Everglades."
At his last stop of the day, McCain told 150 people at a barbecue restaurant in Batesburg-Leesville that Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 because they didn't fight pork barrel spending.
"We lost it because we let spending get completely out of control," said McCain, who will make three more stops in Upstate today.