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TheColumbia Tribune - McCaskill Touts Plan For Future Of Energy

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Columbia Tribune: McCaskill Touts Plan For Future Of Energy

July 21, 2006

Senate candidate talks ethanol, oil profits at library
by Jason Rosenbaum
Columbia Tribune

U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill laid out a vision for a cohesive energy policy yesterday, stressing incentives for renewable fuels and a crackdown on what she believes is profiteering by the oil industry.

About 45 people turned out for McCaskill's appearance at the Columbia Public Library. She criticized oil companies that took government assistance at time when the country is experiencing $3-a-gallon gas.

McCaskill also chided the companies for reaping record amounts of money, noting that the five biggest companies took in profits of almost $115 billion in 2005. "We have real needs in this country, and it's not enriching oil companies," McCaskill said.

The state auditor said her plan would crack down on price-gouging by oil companies and focus attention on providing incentives to produce renewable fuels such as ethanol, solar and wind power.

"We only have one company in the United States that builds the turbines for the wind facilities," McCaskill said. "Obviously, we need to be supporting that technology."

The plan supports the greater availability of biofuels such as E85 and cellulosic ethanol. She blasted Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, her opponent in November, for voting against ethanol legislation while he was in the Missouri General Assembly. McCaskill noted that she voted for it.

"I was for ethanol before it was cool," McCaskill said.

Rich Chrismer, a spokesman for Talent, said McCaskill's attack on the Missouri senator's record in the state legislature is a smokescreen because she opposed the federal energy bill, which features provisions on ethanol and renewable fuels.

"Claire McCaskill's statements show she would be part of the problem in Washington, not part of the solution," Chrismer said.

Chrismer also noted that the Missouri Corn Growers Association and the Missouri Soybean Association have endorsed Talent.

"Claire McCaskill isn't arguing with Sen Talent; she's arguing with the people who grow the corn and the soybeans that are used to make ethanol and biodiesel," Chrismer said. "They said 'no' to Claire McCaskill and 'yes' to Jim Talent."

When asked whether she would support a windfall profit tax on oil companies' profits, McCaskill said the first focus should be stripping away between $14 billion and $28 billion in government aid to oil companies.

"Let's get our money back and reinvest that first before we talk about raising taxes anywhere," McCaskill said. "But certainly, I don't think we should rule out a special, specific tax on the oil industry if this continues the way it is, this spiraling profit at the same time prices are spiraling."


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