6th District candidates disagree on economy, energy
BY KATHY JESSUP
Three candidates vying for the 6th Congressional District seat agree that achieving national energy independence in the next decade is a laudable goal. But their paths to getting there share few common initiatives.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, said expanding nuclear power, including adding new reactors at two Southwest Michigan plants, is the best solution to satisfying increasing demand for electricity at affordable prices.
Democratic challenger Don Cooney, a Kalamazoo city commissioner, advocates an ``Apollo-like project'' to produce renewable energy sources in the long term, suggesting harnessing wind power could be pivotal to Michigan.
Libertarian Greg Merle, a pharmaceutical sales representative from Vicksburg, claims the ``junk science supporting climate change'' is unnecessarily limiting U.S. energy sources. He called for increased domestic oil drilling.
Health care and tax policy were among the other key issues the candidates debated Monday night at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Nearly 150 people attended the event, which was sponsored by the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Cooney said committing the U.S. to energy independence in a decade could create 3 million jobs as the nation develops clean, renewable sources to replace petroleum. He also called for increasing spending on public transit, cutting utility bills through conservation and developing vehicles that ``plug in'' rather than ``fill up.''
Upton said he also supports hybrid vehicles. But he said that will be realistic only if the United States can produce the additional electricity to power those cars.