Beltway Happenings
May 23, 2006--In a major speech to a sold out audience at the National Press Club, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) outlined a host of proposals to transform the nation's energy policy and said the United States should seek to reduce oil imports by 50 percent by 2025. 

Delivering what she acknowledged was "probably a more wonkish speech than many of you anticipated," Clinton advocated such ideas as boosting production from wind and renewable resources, incentives for hybrid cars, accelerating development of biofuels, encouraging installation of "E85" fuel pumps at more gas stations, and creating an "Advanced Research Projects Agency" modeled on DARPA.  According to a fact sheet distributed at the speech, the investments would be paid for by a $50 billion "Strategic Energy Fund" generated by "a temporary [two year] fee on major oil company profits that exceed a 2000-2004 profit baseline."  Clinton said she would introduce legislation today to achieve these aims.  [speech text]  

RNC press secretary Tracey Schmitt responded with a statement that, "Senator Clinton's energy policy consists of a unique balancing act involving partisanship, political pandering and yesterday's mistakes.  Voting against meaningful legislation that would increase domestic production, while opposing a comprehensive energy bill is harmful enough, but adopting the energy policies of the 1970s is a price Americans cannot afford."  Iowa Republicans also weighed in with a narrower critique focused on Clinton's position on ethanol.

In recent months as gasoline prices have risen to over $3 a gallon, politicians of all stripes have put forth proposals to address the situation as well as participating in the requisite photo ops in front of gas stations and with hybrid cars.

As her speech drew to a close, two anti-war protesters, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace, and retired Army colonel Ann Wright, briefly disrupted the event.  Still shouting, they were escorted out by security and Clinton wrapped up and proceeded to take questions. 

Several of the questions touched on other topics.  Asked if she regretted her vote on the use of force in Iraq, Clinton carefully replied that she regreted "the way the president used the authority he was given."  She also deflected a question about whether she thought people came to listen to her speak on energy or because she may be running for president.  Clinton said she was focusing on re-election and achieving "bipartisan, sensible practical solutions." 
(see also: photos from before the speech | photos from after the speech)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Copyright © 2006  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action