Sen. Clinton Emphasizes Ethanol to Reduce Foreign Oil Use

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling for cutting U.S. dependence on foreign oil by 8 million barrels a day by the year 2025 — a goal she says can be met with more ethanol-based fuel and a $50 billion fund for new energy research.

Clinton, D-N.Y., who is up for re-election this year and is also a potential 2008 presidential candidate, was outlining her energy goals Tuesday.

"No longer can we all pass the buck and blame things beyond our control. It's time for everyone, from the president and our oil companies to each of us, to adopt a virtual revolution in our thinking about energy and act on what we now know," Clinton said in prepared remarks.

The senator urged a combination of government tax incentives, private investment, and new research to cut the consumption of foreign oil in half by 2025, or by nearly 8 million barrels a day.

Republicans immediately attacked Clinton's proposal, noting that she had voted against drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and against some of President Bush's other energy expansion proposals.

"Senator Clinton's energy policy consists of a unique balancing act involving partisanship, political pandering and yesterday's mistakes," said Tracey Schmitt, press secretary for the Republican National Committee. "Voting against meaningful legislation that would increase domestic production is harmful enough, but adopting the energy policies of the 1970s is a price Americans cannot afford."

Clinton is calling for the creation of a $50 billion "Strategic Energy Fund" paid for by increased profits of the big oil companies. She had urged the creation of such a fund last fall when hurricane damage in the Gulf Coast sent the price of gas soaring.

She is also calling for a massive expansion of ethanol, a corn-based fuel additive and substitute, which is currently only available at a small percentage of gas stations in the United States.

President Bush and other elected officials have called for a greater expansion of E-85, a fuel made of 85 percent ethanol that can be used in vehicles built to run on both regular unleaded gasoline and E-85.

Clinton's speech calls for accelerating the spread of E-85 to half of the nation's gas stations by 2015 by offering a 50 percent tax credit for station owners who install ethanol pumps.

Ethanol is also a popular political cause in midwestern corn states like Iowa, which plays a key early role in the presidential primary process.