Clinton goes green with energy plan

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, vowed Monday to move to a “green” economy that the former first lady said could create up to 5 million jobs.

Clinton wants to reduce dependence on foreign oil by using energy more efficiently, boosting funding for research into alternative energy technologies and creating a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions.

The senator called the problems posed by global climate change “the biggest challenge we’ve faced in a generation, a challenge to our economy, our security, our health and our planet.”

At an event in Iowa, Clinton unveiled her proposal, which she hopes will reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically and cut oil imports.

“For those who still believe that we can’t afford to tackle climate change, the price of inaction is far higher than the price of action,” Clinton said in Cedar Rapids. “I believe America is ready to take action to break the bonds of the old energy economy to prove that the climate crisis is one of the great economic opportunities in the history of our country.”

To reduce energy dependency, Clinton proposed to raise fuel efficiency standards to 55 miles per gallon by 2030.

“That will save consumers more than $180 billion in fuel bills each year and save us 4.5 million barrels of oil each day,” the senator said. “But I’m not going to ask the auto companies to do it alone. I want to be a partner, a good partner to help them transition to a clean energy future. I’ll provide $20 billion in green vehicle bonds to help domestic automakers retool their older plants to manufacture the new, more efficient cars and trucks.”

In addition, Clinton advocates the creation of a $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund, and the senator wants to pay for it by repealing tax breaks the oil companies currently receive.

“Oil is now over $90 a barrel. A lot of folks think it’s going to get over $100 a barrel. The oil companies don’t need your tax dollars to help them,” she said. “We’re going to give these companies that have made the highest profits in the history of the world a choice: Pay into the Strategic Energy Fund or invest more in renewable energy. We can’t let the middle class pay twice to solve the energy crisis in higher prices at the pump and in bearing the largest burden of transitioning to a green economy.”

Clinton argues that her plan will cost the federal government $150 billion over 10 years but that closing tax loopholes for energy companies and revenues from a cap-and-trade auction would offset that cost.