Kaine Sets Forth Goals for Energy And Health Care

"We have to go our own way as a state," Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said of his long-term energy plan. (By David Crigger -- Associated Press)
By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 13, 2007

RICHMOND, Sept. 12 -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine unveiled long-range health-care and energy plans Wednesday that would slash the number of uninsured Virginians and dramatically reduce energy consumption.

Kaine's proposals are designed to serve as blueprints for helping achieve two of his priorities as he nears the midpoint of his four-year term. Parts of the plans are ambitious; Kaine (D) calls for a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Although the governor pledged to do all he can before leaving office in 2010, the state faces a $600 million shortfall. Kaine said it would be up to future governors to implement many of the recommendations he outlined Wednesday.

Virginia has to step in, Kaine said, because the federal government hasn't done enough to address the ramifications of climate change or the need to expand access to health care.

"We have to go our own way as a state," Kaine said in unveiling the energy plan.

The plan, developed in conjunction with the Republican-controlled General Assembly, marks the first time that Virginia would have a comprehensive approach to reducing energy consumption.

Kaine stressed that residents will have to commit to the approach for it to succeed.

One aspect of the plan calls for the state to reduce the energy it uses by 40 percent over the next decade. To do that, the report recommends that the state expand programs that pay for low-income residents to weatherize their homes, bolster consumer education about energy use and increase tax credits for energy-efficient appliances. The state should reach out to private businesses to encourage them to conserve more energy, the report says.

Colleges and universities and local governments will be encouraged to develop ways to reduce energy consumption. Virginia may have to invest $100 million a year in energy conservation programs to meet the goal, the report says.

In an effort to lead by example, Kaine said, the state has purchased 27,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs, which last longer and use less energy than conventional bulbs.

Because vehicle usage accounts for about 40 percent of the state's energy use, Kaine said, Virginia will have to invest heavily in expanding mass transit. The plan says Virginia should also consider mandating the use of fuel that contains 10 percent ethanol.

Even if energy use declines, the report says, the state will have to bolster its energy supply to meet expected demand.

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