, November 8, 2007 (ENS) - The 2008 Iowa Caucus will be held January 3, 2008, at precincts across Iowa. The first state in the nation to test the temper of the voting public, on caucus night, Iowans gather by party preference to elect delegates to the 99 county conventions.
Any voter who is a registered Republican or Democrat, and can prove residency in Iowa, can participate in the caucus of their party.
To attract support in Iowa, a state that grows corn and other feedstocks for biofuels where ethanol is big business, Democratic presidential front-runner New York Senator Hillary Clinton announced a plan to address America's energy and environmental challenges in a speech in Cedar Rapids Monday. She pledged to establish a green, efficient economy and create as many as five million new jobs.
The plan is centered on a cap and trade system for carbon emissions that auctions 100 percent of emissions permits alongside investments. It includes stronger energy and auto efficiency standards and an increase in green research funding.
Clinton said her plan will reduce America's reliance on foreign oil and address the looming climate crisis.
"This is the biggest challenge we've faced in a generation, a challenge to our economy, our security, our health, and our planet. It's time for America to meet it," Clinton said.
Her energy efficiency plan would reduce electricity consumption 20 percent from projected levels by 2020 by changing the way utilities do business, catalyzing a green building industry, enacting strict appliance efficiency standards, and phasing out incandescent light bulbs.
"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," Clinton said.
"Seizing 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 be a new beginning for the 21st century," she said.
The plan would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of global warming, and cut foreign oil imports by two-thirds from 2030 projected levels, more than 10 million barrels per day.
Clinton said she would establish national "net metering" standards to make it easier and more economical for families and businesses to generate their own renewable power and sell it back to their utilities.
Clinton would underwrite research and development through a $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund, doubling investment in basic energy research.
She would also spur the green building industry by funding the retrofitting and modernization of 20 million low-income homes, enact strict appliance efficiency standards and phase out incandescent light bulbs.
Recognizing that transportation accounts for 70 percent of U.S. oil consumption, Clinton would increase fuel efficiency standards to 55 miles per gallon by 2030, but would help automakers retool their production facilities through $20 billion in "Green Vehicle Bonds."
On Wednesday, speaking to a crowd of about 200 people at Central Iowa Energy biodiesel plant in Newton, Clinton said she hopes to make biofuels and other renewable energies a key element in decreasing America's dependency on foreign oil and reducing the effects of global warming.
Clinton said she would require oil companies and major gas retailers to have E85 pumps with ethanol fuel at all of their stations by 2017 and have more flex-fuel vehicles on the road.
She would increase the production of ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels to 60 billion gallons a year by 2030.
Clinton's plan drew an attack from rival Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who is on a campaign swing of his own through Iowa this week. In a "Des Moines Register" interview Tuesday, Obama questioned Clinton's commitment to clean energy.
"It's hard to believe that she is a strong ethanol supporter given her track record and this is something that represents a major reversal and what we need is consistency on these issues," Obama said. "If she's willing to shift this quickly on this issue, we don't know whether she will shift back when it gets hard."
Obama says he would implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the level recommended by top scientists to avoid calamitous impacts.
He proposes investing $150 billion over the next 10 years to develop and deploy climate friendly energy supplies, protect our existing manufacturing base and create millions of new jobs.
Obama says he would "improve energy efficiency to reduce energy intensity of our economy by 50 percent by 2030."
He would, "Reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce oil consumption overall by at least 35 percent, or 10 million barrels of oil, by 2030, and make the U.S. a leader in the global effort to combat climate change by leading a new international global warming partnership."
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential hopeful New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has written a campaign-themed book in which he calls for America to move quickly to eliminate dependence on foreign oil while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The book, released Tuesday, is titled "Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution."
A former U.S. ambassador to the UN, Richardson argues that America is just one crisis away from an energy emergency that will disrupt daily life, send energy prices skyrocketing and might even lead to a military intervention in world energy markets.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.
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