Kerry Touts Security Through Energy Independence
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, June 16, 2003 (ENS) - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry unveiled his energy plan Friday and said that he is "running for President to declare America energy independent." The United States can no longer afford the security risks that come with its current oil consumption, Kerry said, and needs to revamp its energy policy in order to put the nation on a course toward energy independence.
"If we care about the national security of America, we can settle for nothing less than energy security for America," Kerry said. "The cause is urgent, and the time is now."
His energy plan will deliver this energy security, Kerry said, and will achieve the goal of ending the nation's dependence on foreign oil within 10 years.
The nation needs to redirect its energy spending and to cut subsidies to the big energy companies, Kerry says, and to provide increased incentives for renewable energy development.
Kerry's plan centers on an alternative energy research trust fund, tougher fuel economy standards, as well as tax incentives to encourage energy efficiency and new initiatives to increase natural gas supplies and to develop clean coal technology.
"This energy security plan is not about spending more, but spending smarter," Kerry said.
"We have the opportunity and potential to create an oil free future," Kerry said. "Once the idea of creating clean, renewable sources of energy right here in America was dismissed as science fiction. Today, it is potentially right around the corner - and, more often than not, the technology is already here."
In a speech that repeatedly linked national security with energy policy, the Massachusetts Senator slammed President George W. Bush for pursuing a course of "energy dependence."
"Today we have an energy policy of big oil, by big oil and for big oil," Kerry told an audience gathered in a Cedar Rapids Veterans of Foreign Wars hall. "Time and again [President Bush] has postponed, equivocated, done nothing or done the wrong thing."
"[President Bush] proposes budgets that shortchange investments in clean, renewable, domestic sources of energy like wind, solar, and biomass," Kerry said, "[and] disdains energy conservation."
Kerry, currently serving his fourth term in the Senate, is one of nine Democrats vying for the party's nomination to face Bush in the 2004 election.
The Massachusetts Senator says automobiles are the key to reducing oil consumption, and he wants tougher fuel economy standards for today's vehicles.
"The research shows that the best way to reduce oil dependence in the near term is to increase fuel efficiency in the near term," Kerry said.
New tax incentives should be offered to encourage consumers to buy more fuel efficient vehicles, Kerry said, and the auto industry should receive some $1 billion a year revamp their manufacturing processes to deliver these vehicles.
"As we require higher fuel efficiency, we have to help companies and consumers alike make the transition," Kerry explained.
To encourage the auto industry and the nation to embrace the promise of hydrogen, Kerry would create a new Hydrogen Institute to fund research to develop a hydrogen-based energy economy by 2020.
Kerry's Hydrogen Institute would be tasked with orchestrating an effort to put 100,000 hydrogen powered vehicles on the road by 2010, and 2.5 million hydrogen cars by 2020.
"Energy efficient, environmentally friendly vehicles are one of the most promising, profitable, and job creating innovations we will see in this century - from today's hybrids to tomorrow's hydrogen cars," Kerry said. "We must seize this important opportunity and make sure that America leads the way."
"If we continue to lag behind, we multiply the risks that the cars of the future will be built in Japan or Korea or Europe at the expense of American jobs," Kerry said.
Current funding for new energy technologies is "sporadic, uncertain, and always insufficient," Kerry said.
"There is no metaphysical or miraculous way for us to drill our way out of a 60 percent foreign oil dependency," Kerry said. "We have to invent our way out of it."
The Massachusetts Senator says the nation can and should produce 20 percent of all its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
The federal government should lead by example, Kerry said, and he would put it on course to cut its energy bill 20 percent by 2020.
Kerry's energy efficiency drive would also include tax credits for builders and homeowners to make their homes meet the highest energy efficient standards.
Kerry says there is a large role for natural gas and coal in the nation's energy future.
The supply of natural gas must be expanded, Kerry said, and he calls for a North American Compact to bring together the United States, Mexico and Canada in an effort to develop and transport natural gas resources from across North America, in particular from Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.
The United States must develop and deploy clean electric power from coal, Kerry said, without "abandoning the coal industry, the families and communities that depend on it."