Bill Richardson: The Energy President?

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Today in Salon, Amanda Griscom Little interviews Gov. Bill Richardson about his energy plan:

Bill Richardson likes to play up his image as a horse-ridin’, gun-totin’ man of the Wild West, but don’t be distracted by the cowboy swagger — the Democratic governor of New Mexico also has a serious policy wonk side. That was on full display in May when he unveiled a broad and ambitious climate and energy plan. Billing himself as the “energy president,” he’s now calling for a 90 percent cut to greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, a renewable-energy target of 50 percent by 2040, and a 50-mile-per-gallon fuel-economy standard by 2020.

Richardson is no newcomer to energy issues, of course — he served as secretary of energy at the end of the Clinton administration, and has aggressively pushed clean energy as governor of New Mexico. But some greens might not care for his “clean coal” boosterism or his embrace of “all kinds of biofuel.”

The interview is well-done and the governor does a good job of outlining his energy priorities (and why they’re priorities):

These goals are even stronger than some environmental groups are calling for. Why such dramatic targets?

Because we can’t wait. It’s a matter of necessity. It’s important because it involves our national security. Our energy dependence on foreign oil is so unhealthy — we could be vulnerable to an oil price shock, to $5-per-gallon gasoline prices, to long lines at the pumps. What I’m also advocating is a dramatic shift in mass transit, like I’ve done here in New Mexico with the Rail Runner. But we’d have, nationally, transportation policies that promote sensible land use — not just proposing highway funding bills, but bills to establish light rail and bullet trains and more energy-efficient transportation. Also, land-use policies that advocate open space. This is for a better quality of life for all our people.

As usual with Richardson, there’s two sides to this coin (“I believe that carbon-clean coal will play a role in our energy future. There have gotta be some very strict clean-coal standards”) but head on over and check the interview out.

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