PORTSMOUTH — With the price of crude oil nearing $100 a barrel and home heating oil reaching record heights in New Hampshire, on Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson came to Portsmouth to talk energy.
"Home heating oil prices are the highest they have ever been," said Richardson at a forum sponsored by the Seacoast Media Group, parent company of the Herald. "The danger is the short supply of heating oil. Now, what do we do?"
Richardson, governor of New Mexico, used the heating oil price, which was over $3 a gallon on Thursday, as a hook to expand on a larger energy policy in which he said the emphasis must be on reducing dependence of foreign oil, a move toward renewable energy sources and improving green building, all of which he said will also help in the creation of new jobs.
"Renewable energy is good for the country because it brings jobs," said Richardson. "This is good for the country."
Richardson also spoke on the need to encourage industries that focus on the creation of renewable energy by offering tax credits, something he has done in New Mexico.
"If solar comes to my state and they pay over a prevailing wage, I will give them tax incentive," said Richardson. "I see a lot of very important jobs being created by green technology."
Richardson spoke for just under 10 minutes and then took almost an hour of questions from the 150 or so attendees at the forum.
After speaking on his energy policy if elected president for over a half an hour, Richardson was asked what he does personally to help.
He responded by saying he replaced the light bulbs in the governor's mansion and drives Ford Hybrid vehicles, but conceded, "I could do more."
The topic of the forum was energy, but Richardson and voters asking the questions veered off into areas including Iran, fair trade and the expansion of presidential powers under the Bush administration.
Richardson also had some less-than-kind words for the tenants of Capitol Hill in Washington and their low approval ratings.
Speaking on the effort that will be needed to achieve his goals, Richardson said Congress will need to take action.
"It's going to take massive steps in the Congress," said Richardson. "Not this weak, baby wimpy Congress, and I'm calling them a wimpy Congress because I'm mad at them in general because they are not doing enough to end the war. But the steps they are taking on energy are just so weak.
"Like many of you I worked so hard to get the Congress Democratic, but I'm disappointed, they're wimpy. They have done nothing on the war. They have done nothing on immigration. They've done nothing on health care. They've had this compromise of eavesdropping, they're confirming this attorney general that wants to continue waterboarding and doesn't want to stop eavesdropping."
Richardson then wrapped up his criticism with what has been a staple of his speeches. The one-liner.
"They're approval rating is 11 percent, you know who is higher? HMOs and Dick Cheney," Richardson said to the audience's delight.
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