SANTA FE, NM- Governor Bill Richardson tonight called on President Bush to take meaningful action to help middle-class Americans and attack the serious problems facing the country. Governor Richardson, who on Monday filed the paperwork creating a Presidential campaign exploratory committee, was responding to the President's State of the Union Address and specifically pointed to three critical areas of concern mentioned in the speech- energy efficiency and independence, healthcare, and climate change.
"Welcome to the party, Mr. President, the rest of the country and the world have been talking and doing something about these issues for years," said Governor Richardson. "In addition to being years behind, what the President is proposing doesn't go far enough and isn't realistic."
On energy, Governor Richardson pointed out that the President's proposal on renewable fuels is not broad enough. "Ethanol is a critical part of the solution, but not the only part. Our approach must be comprehensive, exploring all opportunities with renewables, including solar, wind, biomass, fuel cells, and distributive generation, to name a few," said the Governor. "In New Mexico we're requiring 10% of all energy produced must come from renewable sources, and we're moving toward 20%. We're providing tax credits for companies developing renewable energy and we've taken action to reduce and limit carbon dioxide emissions. It's time for serious action, not lip service."
Governor Richardson agreed that the nation must dramatically improve vehicle fuel efficiency but noted the President's plan does not provide enough specifics. It also leaves too many loopholes to achieve the kind of improvements necessary to wean the country off foreign oil and reduce vehicle emissions.
"Ultimately we need a 'man-on-the moon' effort focused on energy independence," added the Governor. "Anything less will not create the change necessary to make a lasting difference."
Governor Richardson applauded the President for addressing the healthcare crisis facing the country but believes the proposals don't go far enough to help the tens of millions of Americans without health insurance.
"The burden of having so many patients unable to pay is crushing the healthcare system, and all of us are paying the price," said the Governor. "In New Mexico and in other states we are finding ways to provide our citizens access to affordable healthcare. We need leadership and funding from the federal government to make sure our working families, and especially our children get the care they deserve."
Another urgent area of concern where states are taking action in the absence of federal leadership or support is climate change.
"It is the gravest environmental threat the world faces. The administration has done little to reverse the effects or causes of global warming and time is running out. We must engage with the rest of the world in this effort, and we must implement a meaningful strategy that will make a difference. States like New Mexico and California, not the federal government, are leading the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the innovation in the states must take place on a national scale."
And finally, Governor Richardson reiterated his opposition to the President's Iraq strategy and believes the United States can and must get our troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007.
"Our presence in Iraq is not helping anymore and we must begin to turn the security of the country over to the Iraqi forces and get our forces out," said Governor Richardson. "Our preoccupation with Iraq has caused a resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan and more violence throughout the region. We must redeploy our troops into areas that will do the most good, and make a real impact in the war on terror."
"Americans expect the President and the government to get things done, to solve the problems that create positive change and improve their quality of life, but that hasn't happened with this administration" said Governor Richardson. "The President has lost his credibility. People here and across the world are looking to the United States for leadership and action, not more promises."