Sen. Clinton Pitches Ethanol Energy Plan

The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 23, 2006; 7:51 PM

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday called for cutting U.S. dependence on foreign oil in half by nearly 8 million barrels a day by the year 2025 _ a goal she said can be met with more ethanol-based fuel and a $50 billion research fund.

The New York lawmaker, who is up for re-election this year and also is considered the leading Democrat in a crowded field of potential 2008 presidential candidates, outlined her energy goals in a nearly hour-long address at the National Press Club.

"We can't just point fingers and sort of place blame on anyone else: Foreigners over there, oil companies over here. The ball is in our court. It is up to us to act and to act soon. It is going to require a virtual revolution in our thinking about energy and the actions that must follow," Clinton said.

The senator recommended a combination of tax credits, private investment and new research to cut the consumption of foreign oil in half by 2025, or by nearly 8 million barrels a day.

According to the most recent figures from the government's Energy Information Administration, the United States imports some 13.665 million barrels of oil a day. That figure is forecast to rise to 15.6 million barrels by 2025, an amount Clinton seeks to cut in half.

President Bush has called for cutting 75 percent of oil from the Middle East by that time.

Playing off Bush's refrain that America is addicted to oil, Clinton said policymakers must "resist the idea that kicking the oil habit will wreck our economy."

She also called for a massive expansion of ethanol, a corn-based fuel additive and substitute, which is currently only available at a small percentage of gas stations in the United States.

Ethanol is popular in corn-producing states, especially Iowa, which holds the first caucus of the presidential primary.

President Bush and other elected officials have called for a greater expansion of E-85, a fuel made of 85 percent ethanol that can be used in vehicles built to run on both regular unleaded gasoline and E-85.

E-85 is currently available in less than one percent of the country's gas stations, and Clinton wants to accelerate the spread of the fuel to half of the nation's gas stations by 2015 by offering a 50 percent tax credit for station owners who install ethanol pumps.

"We've got to take action on this pump issue or we're just spinning our wheels," she said.

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