Clinton, Obama Push Environment Issue

The Associated Press
Sunday, April 22, 2007; 10:20 PM

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards campaigned separately in Iowa Sunday as they urged thousands to make environmental protection a top campaign issue.

They marked Earth Day in separate campaign appearances, touting proposals they said would promote energy conservation and cut down on pollution.

"Today is Earth Day, and I personally believe every day should be Earth Day," said Clinton, D-N.Y. "We have a duty to protect God's creation and we have a responsibility to repair the damage that we do as we go on in life."

She spoke to about 1,000 people packed into a gymnasium Sunday at Luther College in Decorah, in northeast Iowa.

"Some of the damage ... we didn't know about, we didn't understand," she said. "But now we do _ so we have no excuses left."

Clinton touted her plans to create a strategic energy fund, invest oil companies' "windfall profits" in renewable energy efforts and lead the nation to get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.

In Iowa City, Obama told nearly 5,000 people at a noisy rally not to wait for their political leaders to tackle giant issues like climate change.

"It's not going to happen just because of some presidential candidate or because some bills are introduced in Congress," said Obama, D-Ill. "It's going to happen because the American people mobilize around the issue."

While former Vice President Al Gore has helped drive the debate with his film "An Inconvenient Truth," the increased level of interest in the presidential campaign is caused by a sense of urgency among the electorate on issues including climate change as well as health care and deficit, Obama said.

"People feel genuinely concerned about whether we are reaching a tipping point, where if we don't make some decisions now, we're not going to be able to solve some very major problems," Obama said. "There's just a sense we're out of balance, we're out of whack and the American people are going to have to engage if we're going to be able to solve these problems."

In Waterloo, Edwards renewed his call for universal health care coverage, but also addressed the environment.

He said he would cap carbon dioxide emissions, lowering the cap each year, and put a "maximum investment" into sources of alternative energy.

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