Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Tuesday defended the construction of a sprawling, 28,000-square-foot house in North Carolina, arguing that his home is a model of energy efficiency.
"The house was built from the beginning, both in its location for passive solar and the use of active solar, to help provide some of the energy for the house," Edwards said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It doesn't provide all of the energy, but it provides some."
Sitting on 102 secluded acres, the 28,000-square-foot estate that Edwards and his family call home has a main house with five bedrooms and six-and-a-half baths. It's connected by a covered walkway to a bright red addition known as "The Barn," that includes its own living facilities along with a handball court, an indoor pool and an indoor basketball court with a stage at one end.
Edwards said he hired a design expert during construction to offer energy efficiency options and his family has taken efficiency to the smallest detail.
Five-star energy rating
"Elizabeth, I saw her climb up, I literally saw her with piles of fluorescent light bulbs changing them out," Edwards said of his wife. "We are also committed to making the house carbon neutral."
Edwards argued that his house meets top federal efficiency standards because of the careful planning.
"It's the reason we got this five-star energy rating, which is a federal standard," he said. He declined to discuss his monthly bill.
Edwards was in Iowa to tour a biomass energy conversion area where researchers are devising ways of producing energy from renewable sources. He used the tour as a backdrop to spell out his plan for dealing with the international emergency of global warming, rejecting suggestions that steps such as capping greenhouse gas emissions would dampen the economy. Instead, he argued, facilities like the one he toured can spark a new, energy-driven economy.
"Energy not only cannot be a hindrance to the America economy, it can be the fuel for the American economy," said the 2004 vice presidential nominee.
Breast cancer follow-up
Edwards later canceled an evening house party in Iowa in order to attend a doctor's appointment with his wife.
"Mrs. Edwards is having a follow-up medical appointment tomorrow to a routine test she had on Monday," the campaign said. "She's had similar follow-ups in the past and they've all resulted in a clean bill of health, but Senator Edwards has gone with her to these appointments and he wanted to be with her tomorrow too."
Elizabeth Edwards has recovered from breast cancer, diagnosed in 2004.
Edwards energy plan
On energy, John Edwards would:
- Cap greenhouse gas emissions beginning in 2010, cutting them by 15 percent by 2020.
- Push for a new treaty to bring developing nations into the battle. "The issue of global warming is a serious crisis for the world. We are near the tipping point," he said.
- Create a new energy fund by selling $10 billion in greenhouse pollution permits and end $3 billion in subsidies for big oil companies. He would also set a goal of raising fuel efficiency standards to 40 miles per gallon.
- Set a goal of freezing electrical demand over the next decade and producing 25 percent of the nation's electricity from renewable sources.
The former North Carolina senator said it's difficult to overstate the urgency of acting.
"This is not a threat about the future, this is a crisis today," he said. "There is a direct link between our addiction to oil and our national security."
In the AP interview, Edwards said he won't apologize for his lucrative career as a trial lawyer. Since the 2004 campaign, he has made combatting poverty his signature issue.
"I came from nothing and I've been successful and lucky in my life," he said. "I'm proud of the fact that I've been able to take care of Elizabeth and the kids. I'm proud of what I've been able to do with my life."