|KANSAS CITY, Mo. - With crude oil prices at a record high, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry last week offered a 10-year, $30 billion proposal to move the nation toward energy independence.|
Under the measure, aides said, American companies and consumers would receive financial aid to develop and buy more fuel-efficient motor vehicles.
In addition, it would set twin goals to have, by the year 2020, an even 20 percent of the nation\'s motor fuel and electricity come from alternative sources such as solar, wind, ethanol and biodiesel fuel.
Kerry, on a cross-country campaign tour, arranged to formally announce the proposal during a visit to a family farm outside Kansas City.
The measure would provide $10 billion to help automakers retool plants to build high-technology, fuel-efficient vehicles, and give consumers a tax credit of up to $5,000 to buy them.
It would also earmark $5 billion for a research partnership between government and industry into fuels made from agricultural waste, and $10 billion to transform the current generation of coal-fired utility plants into cleaner and more efficient facilities.
The Massachusetts senator has made energy independence a centerpiece of his campaign for the White House and his proposal fleshed out earlier ones he has promoted on the campaign trail.
The cost of the measure would be partially offset by reinstatement of a tax on polluters, aides said.
Kerry has contended greater energy independence would create jobs, provide for a cleaner environment, bolster security and make sure American soldiers do not have to go to war over Middle East oil.
President Bush has said a massive energy bill blocked by Kerry and other Senate Democrats would help reduce the demand for foreign oil largely by opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
In early trading Friday, oil prices climbed close to $45 a barrel, the highest level in 21 years for U.S. light crude futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Story by Thomas Ferraro
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE