Sanders Calls for Big Energy Bill - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Sanders Calls for Big Energy Bill

Burlington, Vermont - June 2, 2006

Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders called for an all-out program to get the country off oil and onto alternative fuels and renewable energy on Friday. His main opponent in the U.S. Senate race does not oppose those goals, but disagrees on how to get there.

Sanders held a news conference where he presented two allies who support the legislation, known as the New Apollo Energy Act. They are Paul Burns of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group and Paul Comey of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. They're working on a coalition of businesses and advocacy groups to promote alternatives like wind, solar power and vegetable-based fuels for hybrid cars. They all say the reasons are compelling to get off fossil fuels.

"There is no serious scientific debate about the fact that global warming is a potential and absolute disaster," Sanders said.

No argument from Rich Tarrant, Sanders' opponent in the U.S. Senate race. "It's apple pie and motherhood," he said. "Everybody would like to stop global warming and become more efficient in the use of fuels and develop alternative energy sources. I mean, that goes without saying."

But Tarrant said talking and getting things done are two different propositions. He said Sanders' highly-touted deal for Venezuelan heating oil discounted for poor Vermonters only partially materialized. Tarrant said his problem with Sanders's position on energy is how he would pay for the legislation. It includes public transportation projects and tax credits for companies that make "green" products like alternative fuels.

Sanders said, "We can pay for the cost of these investments by doing away with the billions and billions of dollars we're currently putting into corporate welfare for various types of companies, including the big oil companies."

Tarrant said it's not that easy. "When he talks about corporate welfare, he ought to be more specific. But there's part of corporate welfare that I agree with. Tax credits for drilling are not necessary because energy companies will drill if there's a market and they won't drill if there's not."

The other candidate in the senate race, Republican Greg Parke, went further with his criticism. He said the bill that Sanders supports appears to play political favorites by giving the same kind of corporate welfare that Sanders criticizes to "green" companies that stand to benefit from it.

Nothing in the Apollo Energy act would alleviate the financial crunch for millions of people who are paying high gasoline prices. But its advocates say in the long run, alternative fuels and new technology would help the country and create millions of jobs. 

Andy Potter - Channel 3 News

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