Senior U.S. Politician Calls for Renewable Energy Incentives

The leader of the House Democrats in the United States congress has called on his country to launch a major campaign to develop renewable energy.

WASHINGTON, DC (US) 2002-01-28 [] “America should launch an ‘Apollo Project’ to develop environmentally smart, renewable energy solutions,” says Dick Gephardt, leader of the Democratic party in the House of Representatives. The U.S. should seek to become energy independent by the end of this decade, and the Missouri politician told the party’s leadership council that energy independence is possible by developing “environmentally smart, renewable energy solutions.” “Every time there is a crisis in the Middle East or overseas oil producers decide to fix output, our nation feels it at the pump and in our pocketbooks,” noting prices increases in 1973, 1979, 1990, 1991 and 2000. “Why do we want to continue to subject Americans to this instability? How many more cycles do we need to live through to convince us that America needs a new energy policy?” The United States imported 36 percent of its oil in 1973, and this has increased to 56 percent. “By the year 2020, I believe that 20 percent of our energy production can be achieved through alternative and renewable fuels – and that’s a goal worth reaching.” “American business should be leading the world in lowering costs through increased efficiency, conservation and use of renewable energy,” and he proposed a tax credit of 30 percent for business investment in renewable energy generation, new deductions to increase energy efficiency in new buildings, and an investment tax credit for purchase of vehicles with fuel-saving technology. The federal government should purchase hybrid fuel cell cars for its own fleet, and he proposed tax credits for consumers who buy them. By 2010, Gephardt wants 100,000 fuel cell vehicles sold each year, and 2.5 million by 2020. “We can bolster America’s competitiveness right away by offering a menu of financial mechanisms, such as tax incentives, loans, grants, and bonds to those power generators and industries that come forward with projects that reduce energy use or increase the use of renewable power,” he said. “We need to begin today to reach the goal of making America energy self-sufficient, using clean and safe sources of energy,” he said. “I believe that with strong leadership – and a real energy policy – we can meet this goal within a decade.” “Our primary goals of this policy should be independence” by reducing oil imports every year and “find new ways to make renewable energy at the lowest possible cost.” He said the policy should create jobs and “reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels.” “This is not just a road to greater energy independence,” he explained. “The development of alternative energy has the potential to be America’s largest growth market and job producer in the next ten years.” “Some studies have shown that there is up to a $1 trillion market in the world today for energy conservation technologies and alternative energy sources,” he added. “We are just on the cusp of discoveries that will be made in these areas that can be just as rapid and breathtaking as a lot of the information technology developments of the last decade. President George Bush will deliver his annual state of the union address this week, and Gephardt says Bush should convene a bipartisan summit to tackle the issue of economic growth. He proposed a number of tax measures, including a refundable tax credit for each new baby and allowing much of the cost of higher education. He also called for pension reform in the wake of the collapse of the Enron energy firm and to deploy new technologies to protect citizens. Gephardt’s comments are similar to those of Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry, who said last week that President Bush’s energy plan was “old thinking” that would not reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Both politicians are considered to be possible candidates for the Democratic nomination for the White House in 2004. “We’ve had too many stops and starts since the 1970s when the need for American energy independence became so obvious,” Gephardt added. “We need government – on a bipartisan basis – to make a long-term commitment in the interest of our security, our environment, and our economy.”
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