With Another Presidential Candidate, Stephanopoulos Again Calls for Gas Tax Hike

Another Democratic presidential candidate, another chance for ABC's George Stephanopoulos to push for higher taxes on energy. On Sunday's This Week, when just-announced candidate Bill Richardson outlined how his energy policy would be based on conservation and improved technology, listing how “it's going to take more efficient air conditioning, it's going to take green buildings, it's going to take fuel-efficient vehicles,” Stephanopoulos jumped in: “Higher gas taxes?” The Governor of New Mexico rejected the plea from Stephanopoulos: “No, you don't have to do it with taxes. You need a conservation effort that every American participates in, inspired by the President.” Stephanopoulos remained unpersuaded, proposing: “But aren't higher energy taxes the best way to get people to conserve?”

On the December 3 This Week, as recounted in my NewsBusters item, Stephanopoulos told Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a then just-announced Democratic candidate for President, that "just about every expert on energy says the best way to become energy independent is to raise the price of oil and gas, to have a serious energy tax. Why not call for it?" Stephanopoulos followed up by pointing to Europe as a model to emulate: "Couldn't we become independent much more quickly if we had the kind of energy tax you see in Europe?"

The exchange about energy policy in the interview taped at the New Mexico Governor's Mansion in Sante Fe and played back on the January 21 This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
George Stephanopoulos: “You were Secretary of Energy. Energy independence, as you say, is going to be one of the number one issues in the campaign. And you've talked about alternative energy. But isn't it going to take real sacrifice, real cutbacks in consumption if we're going to be energy independent?”

Governor Bill Richardson: “If we're going to be energy independent, it's going to take a man on the moon effort. It's not going to be a little energy bill here and there. The President and the American people, he has to inspire the American people to conserve, to find ways to sacrifice, together to invest in renewable technologies. Sixty-five percent of our oil is imported, 65, with dangerous sources that right now could hurt us. We have to reduce that within a period of 15 years to ten percent by massive investments in solar, wind, bio-mass, fuel efficiency, distributed generation, ethanol. We've got to find ways to reduce that dependency and it's going to take the American people, it's going to take more efficient air conditioning, it's going to take green buildings, it's going to take fuel-efficient vehicles-”

Stephanopoulos: “Higher gas taxes?”

Richardson: “-It's going to be a collaborative effort. No, you don't have to do it with taxes. You need a conservation effort that every American participates in, inspired by the President.”

Stephanopoulos: “But aren't higher energy taxes the best way to get people to conserve?”

Richardson: “No, that's not, I believe, realistic. I believe what is needed is public and private investment in renewable sources. I think we can do that with technology. I've done it in New Mexico.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center