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Transcript: Gov. Pataki on Breaking America's Addiction to Oil

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," February 1, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The president is not the first to say we have got to kick the foreign oil habit, but he's the first to say we are addicted to it.

Maybe he should talk to New York Governor George Pataki, who is doing something about it.

Governor, good to have you.

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI, R-N.Y.: Nice being on with you, Neil.

CAVUTO: I hope we are not interrupted, sir.

But, in the meantime, he talks about this idea of technology, energy alternatives. Democrats criticize him for not talking as much about conservation. Nevertheless, you're trying to address all of the above in New York.

PATAKI: Well, first, I think the president struck on a very important issue, that the American people, not Republicans or Democrats, but the American people, are united in understanding we have to break that dependency on foreign oil. We have to develop the alternate technologies here in America.

Keep that quarter-of-a-trillion dollars a year here at home, and it will strengthen our country from an economic and a national security standpoint and create jobs here.

And, in New York, it has been one of my prime initiatives over the last couple of years, to develop the consumer market, to develop the technologies, create the alternate fuel vehicles market.

CAVUTO: Like what?

PATAKI: Well, ethanol, like biomass, like compressed natural gas, electric plug-in vehicles. And I think the way do you it...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, how has the percentage changed in New York?

PATAKI: Well, it has not change that dramatically yet, because I think, in this case, the people are in front of the market.

And what we need are politicians who are going to push that market to develop, not by raising taxes, not by demanding that people do certain things, but by incentivizing.

And I will give you just a couple of examples. I propose that we eliminate the state taxes on alternate fuels. Right now, the prices is relatively similar. Instead of raising the price on gasoline, which is going to hurt people who are taking their kid to school to trying to go to work, let's lower the tax burden, lower the price on biofuels or ethanol. This is something...

CAVUTO: Sort of encourage their use.

PATAKI: Encourage the use.

CAVUTO: Have you seen people respond to that, Governor?

PATAKI: People want to do this.

But the other part of it, Neil, is, you can't get it. You can't pull up to a gas station and get ethanol or get biofuel, because the gas stations have not been fitted with these pumps yet. I drive a Suburban. It's a great vehicle. It's powered by ethanol. But I can do that because we get the ethanol from the state facility that we have in Albany and here near New York City.

CAVUTO: Does it affect any of the mileage or the speed or anything?

PATAKI: It has lower emissions. It does not affect the performance.

The mileage is a little less, but, on the other hand, the price is a lot less. And it comes from the United States, instead of from Iran or Venezuela. So, what we have proposed, first, get rid of the state taxes on these fuels. That will create a dramatic price differential, where people will want that ethanol or biofuel, then, also, incentivize gas stations with a grants program, so they can go out and put in these alternate pumps. That's a part of our proposal as well.

CAVUTO: If the president did all of that, Governor, what do you think would happen?

PATAKI: I think the American people are ready. The American people are tired of sending these billions of dollars overseas. They're tired of...

CAVUTO: Well, what if you told them it is going to cost you as much, if not more, per gallon?

PATAKI: I think, if it was going to cost as much, the American people would be happy to keep the jobs here, keep the dollars here, and have something that pollutes less. But I honestly think it's going to cost less.

CAVUTO: I would like to believe that, Governor, but I'm telling you, if you're talking to a family, paying bills, and saying, well, look, if I'm going to make all this dramatic switch, and buy the Suburban or whatever with the alternative fuel and it is going to cost as much, if not more, I don't think so.

PATAKI: Neil, you don't even have to make a switch.

Today, right now, February 1, in New York state, there are about 200,000 vehicles that could run on biofuel or could run on ethanol right now. People don't even know.

CAVUTO: That use regular gasoline?

PATAKI: That use regular gasoline. People don't even know it.

If the ethanol were less expensive, were cleaner, and were produced in the United States, instead of overseas, people are going to save money and not have to retrofit their cars. But people don't know their vehicles have this capability.

We want to let them know. They can't get access to the fuel. We want to give them access. And we want to lower the price of these alternate fuels.

CAVUTO: Yes.

PATAKI: It's the market. It's the American people wanting to break that dependency. It will happen. We just want to make it happen quickly.

CAVUTO: It's a very forward-looking thing.

And I always look through things through the political prism, Governor. So, I apologize even asking this. But between that initiative, your tax cuts — you have had a pretty successful record, 12 years in Albany, the capital of New York, as governor — do you want to be president?

PATAKI: I want to see our country continue to move forward with policies like the president's.

CAVUTO: I know that. I know that.

Do you want to be president?

PATAKI: I want to be the best governor I can be for the people of the state of New York during this year.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: You're going to Iowa. I know you're going to Iowa.

PATAKI: I love Iowa. It's a great state.

CAVUTO: You love Iowa. They have a lot of corn there, ethanol and all that stuff.

So, in a landscape where there are well-known people in your party, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor, presumably running for office — we had Mitt Romney here yesterday. He's seriously contemplating it.

Where does a George Pataki fit in?

PATAKI: Well, first of all, I think it is, in all likelihood, one of the most open political processes times that we have seen.

Yes, John McCain is a great national figure and someone who the American people have a lot of respect for. But it's a long way to 2008. And I think what the American people are tired of, Republicans and Democrats, is the partisanship in Washington, the division among the political leaders, not among the people. And what they are looking for is a common agenda for the future of our country.

CAVUTO: But they would say, in Iowa, sir, and other states, that you would be too liberal for the core Republican Party.

PATAKI: Well, I don't know what other people say.

I know what I believe in. And what I believe in is bringing our people together, having a common agenda for things like breaking the dependency on foreign oil, and using basic Republican principles —lowering taxes, lowering costs, empowering the private sector. This is how you get these changes made.

CAVUTO: You sound like a presidential candidate, Governor. But, then, that could be me.

PATAKI: I think that's you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Very good seeing you, Governor. Thanks for stopping by.

PATAKI: Nice seeing you.

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