Monday, February 06, 2006

Iowa Gubernatorial Candidates Spar Over Renewable Energy

Yes, you read that right: at a forum last Friday, candidates from both parties pushed their renewable energy bona fides. From the WCF Courier:
Gubernatorial candidates tangled over renewable energy at a forum Friday, with Democrat Michael Blouin highlighting the debate by lecturing party rival Chet Culver about the issue.

"It seems to me that part of the equation is building on what we do best in rural Iowa, building on the strengths of renewable energy. And with all due deference to Secretary Culver, he doesn't really know what he's talking about when it comes to that," said Blouin, a former congressman and head of the Department of Economic Development.

Culver, a two-term secretary of state, said he understands the issue of renewable fuels. He has based much of his campaign on calling for a $100 million "power fund" that he says would lure $200 million to $300 million in private investment in the state's renewable fuel industry.

"The focus of our economic development efforts will be renewable energy," said Culver. "Iowa could be one of the first states to declare our independence from the big oil companies." ...

Most candidates addressed the renewable energy issue, but Blouin and Culver displayed the sharpest exchanges.

Blouin used the forum to brag about his accomplishments, including raising more private funds for renewable energy than Culver has proposed.

"We have with four and half million dollars in state money in the last three years attracted one and a quarter billion of capital investment in the ethanol and biodiesel plants, every one of them in rural Iowa," said Blouin. "You'll never find one in downtown Des Moines."

That ability to attract private investment dwarfs "the two or three times he's talking about in his plan," said Blouin.
It's absolutely wonderful to see this subject at the center of a political debate; at the same time, I get the feeling that they're only talking about biofuels and ethanol. It's a place to start, certainly, but we've got to get beyond just playing to the grain farmers...

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