Dean Offers Environmental Plan

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean (search) is proposing an environmental policy that would push automakers to improve fuel efficiency standards and require that part of the nation's electricity supply come from renewable sources.

One day after presenting his economic plan in Iowa, the former Vermont governor planned to lay out his 100-year vision for the environment and criticize President Bush's record in a speech Thursday in San Francisco. The Associated Press obtained excerpts and the broad outlines.

"We have a president who seems to regard public resources as gifts to be handed out to special interests," Dean said in prepared remarks.

Under Dean's plan, 20 percent of the nation's electricity supply would have to come from renewable sources such as wind and solar power by 2020. He also would elevate the Environmental Protection Agency (search) to Cabinet level and would insist that the United States participate in international environmental agreements, such as the Kyoto (search) global warming treaty.

But in a proposal certain to upset automakers in key electoral states such as Michigan, Dean suggested requiring automakers to establish a fuel efficiency standard of 40 miles per gallon by 2015. The current requirement is 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and 20.7 for trucks.

During his nearly 12 years as governor, Dean had a sometimes strained relationship with environmental leaders because he frequently sided with the business community in development disputes.

In his speech, Dean called for livable communities, something he pushed while Vermont governor. He signed a law that targeted incentives and a variety of grants to developments that were established in the state's downtowns and village centers.

"Doing so will help protect our wild and open spaces and will help reduce energy consumption," Dean said.