Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Governor Bill Richardson touts energy plan

Governor Bill Richardson touts energy plan

By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Democratic presidential contender Bill Richardson on Monday proposed dramatic increases in automotive fuel economy in the next 10 years and the near-elimination of industrial greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Previewing the national energy strategy he will unveil later this week, the New Mexico governor and former energy secretary called for "an Apollo program" that would vault the nation into a massive undertaking to wean itself from fossil fuels. He also said he would encourage shared sacrifice, but he was quick to add that under his vision Americans could keep their SUVs. Those big vehicles would get better gas mileage, he said.

"We need to become energy-independent," Richardson told about 200 employees of search-engine giant Google Inc. at its Mountain View headquarters. "Having our dependence on foreign oil is not worth it."

Richardson said he would reduce U.S. imports of foreign energy from 65 percent to 10 percent; require that 20 percent of all electricity generated in the United States come from such power sources as wind or solar by 2020; and mandate a 90 percent greenhouse gas-emission reduction by 2050.

And he called for "a massive public and private investment — yes, tax dollars — in promoting renewable technologies."

Richardson, who was energy secretary in the Clinton administration, was disdainful of
President Bush's announcement Monday that his administration will decide how to regulate pollution from new motor vehicles by the time he leaves office. Bush signed an executive order directing federal agencies to craft regulations that will cut gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

The new rules could help Bush implement his plan to reduce gas consumption by 20 percent over 10 years.
"It's insufficient," Richardson said of Bush's plan. "It's weak. It has no mandates. It's all voluntary."

Richardson said the notion of sacrifice has been missing during the Bush administration. He added, however, that he would not urge Americans to "stop heating your home."

"I'd say be more careful, everybody pitch in — kids, companies, citizens," Richardson said. He would encourage purchases of energy-efficient appliances, lighting and cars, he said.

"I don't mean sacrifice in a negative way," he said. "I think sacrifice (would be) for the common good to become less energy (dependent) to countries that jeopardize our national security — OPEC countries."

Richardson is to outline the complete energy proposal on Thursday in Washington.

Several Democratic presidential candidates have sought to make energy a centerpiece of their campaigns. One,
Hillary Rodham Clinton also has called for an "Apollo program" on energy.

Richardson is the third presidential candidate to submit to a grilling by employees of Google. Clinton visited in February, Republican John McCain earlier this month.

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