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News Analysis: February 25, 2008

posted on February 26, 2008 at 11:30 AM

David Pitt of the Associated Press talks with host Paul Yeager about the Governor's newly released energy proposal, a program called 2025, the proposed ban on smoking in public places, and the results of the Iowa Poll on the presidential race.

Yeager: David, the story that we continue to talk about is smoking. We'll get to that in a moment. But first I want to start with energy and the Governor today was in Washington, D.C. but still had an impact in Iowa. What is he talking about with energy?

Pitt: Yes, the governors from around the nation are in Washington to discuss a number of issues and the Governor is there and he has put out a press release today basically unveiled his proposal to bring about some proposals to tighten the way that we regulate energy in the state and to try to diversify the energy a little bit. And so he says that renewable energy standard of 25% by 2025 would be something he'd like the state to accomplish and he'd like to do that by including it in legislation. So, his three pronged proposal was something he'd like to put before the legislature and have them approve it.

Yeager: 25% by 2025, that sounds pretty aggressive because we're not even to 10% right now.

Pitt: Right, 7.5% now and we have moved along quite a bit though as everyone knows in the last few years. We see energy coming from wind significantly in the state and there are a lot of projects still on the drawing boards that haven't even been implemented yet. So, it's aggressive certainly but I think the Governor is kind of setting a high bar that he would like for us to reach.

Yeager: We'll be looking at ways to get there. How are we going to get there?

Pitt: Well, two of the other things in his proposal first he would give the utilities board, which is a state regulatory agency, the ability to create an energy efficiency standard of 1.5% for those companies in the state that generate energy. So, the board would have a little bit of a regulatory authority to sit down with these various companies whether they are investor owned or cooperatives or municipally owned and say we need to get to 1.5%. And then the third prong of this is establishing a commission on energy efficiency standards and that commission would work with the construction industry to try to get new construction whether it's homes or businesses and to get those buildings tighter and more efficient when it comes to the energy that they use.

Yeager: More of a go green impact, more we can all do our own part as opposed to a state rule. We should just all not only save our money because we hear about it every year when it gets colder to seal our windows and that type of thing to conserve energy but more of a state level with building and construction?

Pitt: Right, and that last prong includes four things that he would like to see happen. And that is to evaluate the energy efficiency standards and to develop recommendations for new energy efficiency standards and establish incentives for energy efficiency construction projects, things like that. So, it looks like he's moving in a couple of different ways to try to get the state at least to think about it and to get lawmakers on board with his plan.

Yeager: Sounds like ahead may be more clean air but something that there might be another thing with clean air is this statewide ban on smoking. This is something that went through the House last week, there was an extended discussion and debate in the House and now it's the Senate's turn. It looks like the Senate is moving forward on this. What are you hearing?

Pitt: Well, it looks like Wednesday -- I think they are anticipating a debate on Wednesday and, as you said, it went to I think relatively late in the evening in the House, I think it went until 10:00 or something like that and I think they are expecting a debate in the Senate as well. It looks like there is some maneuvering, before it gets to debate the Senate may make some changes in the bill. But Senator Gronstal who is the leader in the Senate for the Democrats is saying that he hopes any changes that are made in the bill he'll try to get with the House side to get them negotiated so that if the Senate makes changes when it goes to the House it will be passed and get to the Governor with some ease. So, it sounds like they're trying to work it all out before they get some changes made.

Yeager: And there was a note today that said there was a new poll put out by the Des Moines Register that 43% of Iowans support the ban. So, that is almost half in the sense that it seems like they've got support for it.

Pitt: Right, it appears to, I would think, give it a little bit of strength as it goes into the Senate, it seems like there was public sentiment behind it. And also, the opponents have kind of wanted to allow more local control and I think that is where that side of the debate is coming from. It's not really a partisan debate as much as it comes down in the lines of those who would like to see local governments have more control over it.

Yeager: That's a big issue. And one other poll was an Iowa poll that came out yesterday that showed the presidential match up if it was Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama versus John McCain, McCain looks like he's got the nomination all but sewn up, it shows that Obama would win versus McCain but Clinton would not. So, what does this poll say?

Pitt: It looks like the poll is showing that independents widely prefer Obama if that match up were to occur now and, of course, polls are always a snapshot in time. Who knows what will happen by the time it's all decided. But it would give Obama a 53-36 lead over McCain so that's a pretty wide margin between the two. And then if it were Clinton and McCain it would be McCain 49 and Clinton 40. It appears that the poll shows that Iowa is going to be a competitive state which a lot of people have been saying and it also shows that independents seem to prefer Obama over McCain but if it was a McCain-Clinton match up then they would swing over to McCain's side.

Yeager: And, again, this was all done before Ralph Nader got into the race.

Pitt: Right, that's correct. It was done in the middle of the month.

Tags: governors Iowa news smoking