Democrats Back Renewable Energy Initiatives

By Johan Bergenas and Kelley Casino
Iowa Presidential

Creating an economy that is more reliant on renewable energy sources is fundamentally important to all the Democratic presidential candidates, and presidential hopefuls said they would provide grants, federal funding and tax credits to states and corporations that initiate programs to provide a cleaner and healthier environment.

Five of the seven Democratic presidential hopefuls campaigning in Iowa have established firm stances on renewable energy, many of which echo each other. The Democrats criticize President Bush's energy policies and vow to decrease the nation's reliance on Middle Eastern oil contracts.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, likened his approach to renewable energy sources to former President John F. Kennedy's vision for the space program in the 1960s, setting a goal to put a man on the moon.

He said Kennedy called for Americans to be open-minded and share their technological and inventive genius. Kucinich said that as president, he would call for a similar movement toward renewable energy sources.

"We were told it was a national obligation we had ... to learn, to study, to help our country," Kucinich said of the Kennedy initiative. "It was a feeling that we were all contributing to something. It was a call for the American people to demonstrate our great genius as a nation.

"I intend to make such a call on sustainability. A call for renewable energy."

Specifically, Kucinich aims for 20 percent of the total power generated to come from renewable sources by the year 2010, said his Iowa campaign manager, John Friedrich.

Other Democratic candidates also have plans for increasing the amount of power coming from renewable energy sources.

Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., has detailed a plan "to ensure that 10 percent of the nation's energy comes from renewable sources in 10 years and at least 20 percent in 20 years," according to his Web site.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., plan to require the United States to generate 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

To reach those goals, each candidate is prepared to stimulate interest in generating renewable resources by offering varying incentives to states and corporations that invest in other sources of energy than oil.

Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., supports "tax incentives and federal budget outlays," said his Iowa press secretary, Kim Rubey. "He also supports researching both renewable sources of fuel and fuel-efficient technologies so we can become less reliant on foreign oil."

She added that he plans to fund his incentives by repealing the Bush tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest citizens.

Gephardt, Kucinich, Dean and Kerry are all also in favor of federal funding, grants and tax incentives to help their energy plans succeed.

"The governor focuses on not only increasing our independence on energy but putting dollars into our communities," said Dean's Iowa communications director, Sarah Leonard. His Web site indicates he will also require more American biofuels, boost wind energy transmissions and create a solar power tax credit.

Information regarding this issue could not be obtained from the Rev. Al Sharpton, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, or Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. Calls and e-mails to their campaigns were not returned, and information was not readily available on their official Web sites.

Quotes from the candidates

E-mail Johan Bergenas at [email protected] and Kelley Casino at [email protected]

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