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Bill Richardson is the Governor of New Mexico and former candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Of Hispanic descent, Richardson was born in Pasadena, California, but spent most of his[…]

The former presidential candidate says Americans are ready to sacrifice.

Question: Is ethanol overhyped?

Bill Richardson:

No. And I don’t say this just because ethanol is important in Iowa. There are some problems with ethanol, whether it’s corn-based or cellulosic. There’s some water and environmental issues. But it is far superior to fossil fuels, to oil, and to petroleum as a renewable fuel. My point is that there’s a whole range of new investments, and I favor them over oil, coal, and nuclear. I think oil, coal, and nuclear and our entire dependence on fossil fuel – 65 percent of the imported oil – is extremely unhealthy. So I put emphasis on a whole range of new sources – solar, wind, bio mass, bio fuels, bio diesels, distributed generation, fuel cells, ethanol, hydrogen – I think nuclear power has to be an option, but I don’t believe it should get the advantages it gets today with subsidies and tax incentives that the renewables don’t get which are much more promising. I also believe you need to mandate fuel efficiency standards by 50 percent by the year 2020. The auto companies and the Congress wanna go to 30, 35. I think that’s pretty pathetic. I think we need an energy revolution in this country. And I’ll also conclude with this. I’ll ask the American people to sacrifice a little bit when it comes to energy consumption, their appliances, mass transit, air conditioning. I wanna ask everybody to wear a sweater. But I do believe that we need to recognize that being so dependent on fossil fuels is unhealthy. And having such a large amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, I would reduce them by 80 percent by the year 2040, 40 percent by the year 2020 with a cap and trade system that is also good for the economy, for the environment, creates green jobs when you’re retrofitting homes. I just believe that America’s trade deficit, one-third of it is because we’re paying close to $100 per barrel of oil. And so we need to shift to cleaner sources. That would be one of the cornerstones of my first year as President.

Recorded on: 11/20/07