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Clinton offers $50 billion global warming plan

By AP (Associated Press) - November 5, 2007

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton called today for creation of a $50 billion strategic energy fund coupled with higher fuel efficiency standards.

The package, which she said was the most comprehensive effort to deal with global warming, would be financed in part by $20 billion in “green vehicle bonds.”

“I believe America is ready to take action, ready to break the bonds of the old energy economy and ready to prove that the climate crisis is also one of the greatest economic opportunities in the history of our country,” said Clinton. “It will unleash a wave of innovation, create millions of new jobs, enhance our security and lead the world to a revolution in how we produce and use energy. It will literally be a new beginning for the 21st Century.”

The strategic energy fund would make up about one-third of a 10-year, $150 billion investment called for in the package.

Her program proposes a cap and trade system designed to reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. Her plan would cut imports of foreign oil by two-thirds by 2030, a reduction of 10 million barrels a day. That would come through more fuel efficient vehicles, reduced electricity consumption and increased production of alternative fuels, she said.

“It’s the biggest challenge we’ve faced in a generation, a challenge to our economy, our health and our planet,” said Clinton. “It’s time for America to meet it. It is time to get back into the solutions business.”

She estimated her plan would create 5 million new jobs over the next decade, many in rural areas.

Clinton announced her plan at a factory that produces parts for wind turbines, using a cavernous factory with giant turbines as a backdrop for her speech. She said her proposal is a key to her effort to improve the rural economy.

In earlier speeches leading up to her talk, she has said she would pay for the plan by ending tax subsidies for oil companies, subsidies she argues aren’t needed with oil at more than $90 a barrel.

Major pieces of her proposal include:

— Putting in place a cap and trade system, with a goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 80 percent. Under that system, greenhouse gases are capped and businesses that produce less than allowed can sell their credits to companies that produce more than allowed.

— Set a vehicle fuel efficiency standard of 55 miles per gallon by 2030, partially financed by the $20 billion in new bonds.

— Pay for the retrofitting and modernizing of 20 million homes for low-income residents to cut electrical use. Overall electrical use would be reduced by 20 percent by 2020, and one-fourth of electricity would be produced by renewable sources by 2030. Those sources include, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

— Setting a goal of producing 60 billion gallons of renewable fuel such as ethanol and soy diesel, immensely popular programs in farm states like Iowa that produce corn and soybeans.

— Double federal spending on basic energy research, set new efficiency standards for appliances and phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs.

— Begin a new program to make it easier for low- and middle-income families to buy energy efficient homes.

— Create a National Energy Council in the White House to coordinate federal efforts.

— Fund 10 “smart grid cities” to deploy plug-in hybrid vehicles on a large scale.

Clinton announced her plan on the same day several other candidates are scheduled to attend a biobased industry forum at Iowa State University. Clinton didn’t plan to attend that gathering Monday night.

Clinton argued that focusing on a new, clean energy industry offered the best hope of boosting the economy in rural areas, many of which have suffered decades of job loss and population declines.

A second portion of her package calls for expanding access to high-speed Internet service to rural areas, a move she said is crucial to opening up a new economy.

Clinton also made sure to blast President Bush for inattention to the issue.

“The president has systematically undermined our path to a clean energy future,” said Clinton.