Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined a detailed proposal on Monday that she said would transform America's carbon-based economy and create as many as 5 million "green-collar" jobs.
The all-encompassing delivery was the first in a series in which the Democratic presidential hopeful from New York will extensively address her energy and climate change policies.
At the Clipper Turbine Works Inc. factory -- the assembly center for the international wind-turbine company -- Clinton thanked the crowd of employees and spectators for "doing" while other people are just talking.
"Tackling the energy crisis is the calling of our time, and when I'm president, it will be the calling of our nation," the New York senator said, as applause reverberated through the capacious warehouse.
She called for a $50 billion strategic energy fund to fuel alternative-energy investment, created in part by eliminating tax breaks for oil companies. The fund would be roughly a third of her $150 billion, 10-year energy package.
"What does it mean to be a patriot in America in the 21st century? End dependence on foreign oil," she said.
Her plan is centered on a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. It would cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 and reduce oil imports by two-thirds and increase fuel emission standards to 55 miles per gallon by 2030.
In today's era of car CD players, GPS systems, and front and side airbags, Clinton said, "Henry Ford would be dumbfounded -- until he opened up the hood of the car."
The same combustion engine in cars today is outdated, she told the crowd of 250, adding that $20 billion in "green-vehicle bonds" would help United States automakers to meet her model's standards.
Clinton's plan also calls for increasing biofuel production, accelerating the construction of hybrid gas-electric vehicles, and upping federal dollars that finance public transportation.
"For this generation of Americans, climate change is our space race," she said, noting that the United States lags behind other countries in energy advancement. She would create a post-Kyoto Protocol on global warming and establish a group of the world's major carbon-emitting nations to grapple with climate change.
The Bush administration has failed to set any sort of international example on environmental sustainability, Clinton said.
She criticized the international message sent when it rejected the Kyoto Protocol and scathed it for standing in the way of scientific research and advancement.
Karen Hass of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said Clinton was "right on target," especially with her pointed remarks.
"We can't depend on foreign oil, or we'll continue to be in the mess we're in -- warring for oil, as I feel like we are in Iraq," the retired nurse said.
Travis Keller, who builds gear boxes at the wind-turbine factory, agreed. Although he's noticed his gas costs increase, he has put little thought toward what Clinton called a "climate crisis."
"Other than working here, I don't really think about it," the 21-year-old said. "I feel like I don't really have a part in it."
© 2007 The Daily Iowan via U-WIRE