Kerry Calls for 'Energy Independence'

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, outlined his energy plan in a speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall.
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, outlined his energy plan in a speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall. (By Julia Malakie -- Associated Press)
By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Decrying political timidity in Washington and denouncing the Bush administration as anti-science and pro-Big Oil, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) yesterday outlined a program to combat climate change and move the United States toward energy independence, including mandates to cut consumption of foreign oil.

Kerry decried more than two decades of government inaction to lessen dependence on Middle East oil. Both parties share blame, he said in a speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall, calling the country's lack of progress toward energy independence "politics at its worst -- ducking the difficult choices, giving in to the big contributors, substituting words for deeds, postponing the reckoning until the day after tomorrow."

But Kerry saved his harshest words for President Bush, whom he portrayed as unwilling to push the public or special interests to change long-formed habits that have made the United States the biggest energy consumer in the world.

"George W. Bush now says that 'America is addicted to oil,' " Kerry said. "His preferred policy has been to feed the addiction; his attitude on greenhouse gases is to let them increase; his energy alternatives are token; again and again his approach to crisis is to denigrate the environment."

A prepared text of the speech was made available in Washington.

Kerry said that, without quick and determined action to reduce greenhouse gases, the world will face a global catastrophe within the next decade. He used flamboyant language to attack politicians who, he said, have dragged their feet on meeting the challenge, saying it amounts to "a flagrant, dangerous, arrogant disavowal of science at the behest of the powerful. It is a damning story of public irresponsibility and private profiteering."

The Kerry plan includes mandates to reduce U.S. consumption of oil by 2.5 million barrels a day by 2015. He said that amount equals what the United States currently imports from the Middle East.

To meet the target, he called for incentives to produce more ethanol and vehicles capable of running on alternative fuels, as well as a significant increase in automobile fuel-efficiency standards.

Kerry would pay for his proposals by rolling back tax breaks for the oil industry and recapturing them into a dedicated fund, and he called on the government to renegotiate existing oil leases.

Kerry set out a goal of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 65 percent by 2050 while providing financial aid to cushion the impact on U.S. firms.

"We can't respond to climate change, and we can't wage and win a real war on terror," he said, "if we don't at last take bold, real steps towards energy independence."

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