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Nussle/Culver debate turns to alternative energy

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Republican Jim Nussle and Democrat Chet Culver both say enhancing the alternative energy industry would be their top priority if elected governor, but take different steps to accomplish their goals.

Nussle would require every gallon of gasoline sold in the state be blended with ethanol, much like what's required in neighboring Minnesota.

"It's time that the state supports the industry like so many others by requiring a 10 percent blend of ethanol in every gallon of gas sold in the state," Nussle said. "Ethanol is the energy strategy of the future and Iowa needs to lead the way in increasing production, offering consumer incentives and making it more accessible to consumers."

Culver said he would set aside $100 million for an "Iowa Power Fund," a state investment he said would lure up to three times that amount in private investment. That money would help new companies focused on renewable energy and alternative fuels get off the ground. He also supports the ethanol mandate.

"This will make the Iowa Power Fund the largest of its kind in the nation and will put Iowa on the map for the next generation power and fuel investors and entrepreneurs," Culver said.

With the state's growing ethanol industry providing new and expanding markets for the state's corn crop, it's hardly surprising that both candidates would focus on renewable fuels. Iowa is the nation's top ethanol producing state, producing 1.6 billion gallons per year.

Culver also said he would move to require that the entire fleet of state government vehicles be hybrid vehicles, operating on E85 - an 85 percent ethanol blend.

"I will make sure that Iowa state government leads the way with the power and products we purchase, the leases we sign, the building we build, the higher education courses we offer and the state and federal research dollars we invest," Culver said.

Nussle said he would offer a $2,000 tax credit to consumers who purchase flex-fuel vehicles.

Both candidates focused attention on the development of vehicles which burn the 85 percent blend of ethanol, arguing that's the best way to expand the use of ethanol.

Culver said he would use the state's major colleges to help spark new and clean technology businesses.

Nussle also called for new tax credits to spur wind energy development.

"Iowa's location makes it a prime location for the development of wind energy production," he said. "This clean, inexpensive and profitable form of energy offers tremendous potential to Iowa's environment, Iowa investors and to Iowa consumers."

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