Exclusive: Politicians Begin to Wake Up to Energy Crisis

by THE EDITORS July 22, 2008

With the rising cost of fuel adversely affecting Americans of all walks of life, we now look to Congress for leadership on this vital issue. While it may seem that such leadership is in short supply and that partisanship – and keeping one’s elected position – has become more important than serving the needs of the American people, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers got together for the initial meeting of the House Energy Working Group. Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and John Peterson (R-Pennsylvania) issued a statement on the direction of the group:

 “We are very pleased at the level of commitment among the group of 23 Republicans and Democrats from all parts of the country who were able to attend the first meeting and begin working together to develop a real national energy plan. 

“It is abundantly clear that the public is tired of the partisan rhetoric coming out of Washington. They want solutions. This working group recognizes that politics as usual will not solve our national energy crisis. A comprehensive approach must include regulatory reform, increased domestic production, conservation and real investment in renewable and alternative energy technologies.  These are all part of America’s energy future.

“Upon adjournment of our initial meeting, we have renewed hope that working together – across the aisle – Congress can put differences aside and act in the best interest of the nation, regardless of party affiliation.”

The House Bipartisan Energy Working Group plans to meet regularly to develop consensus legislation that will be introduced prior to the August recess. Membership is comprised of rank-and-file Republican and Democrat Members who are committed to accomplishing one goal: a comprehensive, environmentally responsible energy plan for the American people.

This is welcome news. Numerous polls, including this one by FamilySecurityMatters.org, show that a majority of Americans are tired of the current Congressional impasse and favor domestic drilling. In fact, a majority of respondents to the FSM poll indicated that ecological concerns should take a back seat to the national security implications connected to our heavy dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

For too long, politicians have been playing the tune composed by special interest groups and ignoring an energy crisis that has been many years in the making. Back in April of 2001, President Bush repeatedly warned Congress and the nation that such a crisis was looming, and was in favor then of opening certain federal lands for oil exploration. He recently stepped up to the plate, rescinding an executive ban on offshore drilling and encouraging Congress to get with the program.

Yet today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is busy declaring that oil makes us sick and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is looking for a quick election year fix by urging President Bush to tap the nation’s strategic oil reserve – a reserve that exists to keep our government and military going in the event of a national catastrophe. This shortsightedness shows an appalling lack of judgment that should concern all Americans.

There have also been calls to enact a “windfall tax” on oil producers – one assumes to “punish” them for making money. Not only is this a violation of free market principles but it would backfire, as oil companies would simply pass on the additional cost to the consumer. And mandating the use of ethanol has had another unintended and unpleasant side effect – a sharp rise in the cost of food at home and around the world.

Yes, we should be looking for viable alternative fuel sources, and private companies around the nation are doing just that. But should our economy be allowed to grind to a halt in the meantime because of outmoded concerns about oil exploration and drilling? There have been significant improvements in drilling technology in recent decades – not to mention that drilling at home is much more ecologically sound than transporting oil thousands of miles in tankers that can leak or sink.

We applaud those House Representatives who are reaching across the aisle in order to find a workable, viable solution to the looming energy catastrophe, and we urge the leaders in Congress to take a page from their book. Swift, decisive action is needed now.

Brought to you by the research staff and editors of FamilySecurityMatters.org.


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