Republican presidential candidate John McCain has intensified his efforts to fight global warming by proposing a $300 million government prize to the first person or corporation to develop vehicle battery technology superior to anything currently available. Speaking at Fresno State University in California today, McCain said that such a bounty would be a small price to pay for technology that could significantly reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

His latest remarks follow previous promises to increase funding for alternative fuel vehicles and power generation as well as introduce a market-based cap on greenhouse gas emissions should he win the upcoming election. Some of his initiatives include tougher fines for carmakers that fail to meet current fuel-efficiency standards, as well as incentives to increase the use of ethanol.

As for the battery prize, McCain envisages the winning technology as having the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the batteries found in current hybrid and all-electric vehicles. In addition to the battery prize, McCain has also proposed a new ‘Clean Car Challenge’ that would provide U.S. carmakers with a $5,000 tax credit for every zero-emissions vehicle they develop and sell, reports The Detroit News.

With fuel prices in the U.S. reaching record levels of more than $4 a gallon, McCain has also suggested that for immediate term effects he would lift a federal ban on offshore oil drilling if individual states want to allow it. His Democratic rival, Barack Obama, has already opposed the idea, claiming it would do nothing to address immediate price concerns.