Obama blames US energy woes on timid politicians

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WASHINGTON, Oct 8 (Reuters) Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama today blamed America's energy problems on timid Washington politicians and said if elected he would pursue bold proposals to fight global warming.

Obama, in excerpts from a speech he was to deliver in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, later in the day, said he would lead an effort to impose Kyoto-style caps on carbon emissions and prompt US automakers to build cars that use less oil if elected in November 2008.

''Now, some of these policies are difficult politically,'' Obama said. ''They aren't easy. But being president of the United States isn't about doing what's easy. It's about doing what's hard.'' Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, is trying to run as a Washington outsider willing to challenge conventional thinking while accusing the party's front-runner, New York Sen Hillary Clinton, of representing old-style politics.

He said, ''Our energy program has become an energy crisis,'' and that past efforts to fix the problem have fallen victim ''to the same Washington politics that has only become more divided and dishonest; more timid and calculating, more beholden to the powerful interests that have the biggest stake in the status quo.'' ''There are some in this race who actually make the argument that the more time you spend immersed in the broken politics of Washington, the more likely you are to change it,'' Obama said without mentioning any of his rivals by name.

Some candidates who advocate for change, he said, did not lead when they ''had the chance to stand up and require automakers to raise their fuel standards'' or reduce US dependent on foreign oil.

Obama said he would move faster to address climate change than President George W. Bush, who recently convened a global warming summit to stress the need for new environmental technology and voluntary measures to tackle the issue, instead of mandatory limits on carbon dioxide demanded by environmentalists.

Obama would implement an economy-wide ''cap-and-trade'' program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to what his campaign called the level recommended by top scientists to avoid calamitous impact.

Bush has said such a program would lead to job losses and massive economic dislocation.

Obama's campaign said he would invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade to develop and deploy climate friendly energy supplies, protect the manufacturing base and create jobs.

He would also aim to improve energy efficiency dramatically and reduce dependence on foreign oil and overall oil consumption by at least 35 per cent, or 10 million barrels of oil, by 2030.

REUTERS SI BD2155

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