Opinion Pieces

Chronicle Newspaper: Congresswoman Explains Efforts to Making Energy Affordable

The sticker-shock at the gas pump has quickly become one of the biggest issues for families and job creators in Southwest Washington.
The sticker-shock at the gas pump has quickly become one of the biggest issues for families and job creators in Southwest Washington. 

During recent job creator forums I have hosted in the last month, virtually every business owner said that the price of fuel was the new greatest challenge to their business’s well-being and ability to hire. 

One gentleman from Vancouver owns a pizza delivery business, and the price of filling up his delivery vehicles is critical to his operations. Imagine how his business must cope with an 86 percent rise in the price of gas over the last two years. At the very least, spending nearly twice as much keeping his delivery vehicles running puts a heavy burden on his ability to hire.

The fact is that when gas prices go up, people lose jobs. The cost of energy has a huge impact on Southwest Washington’s economic well-being. And of course, our region is not alone. I spoke to several of my colleagues in Congress and each one heard the same concerns from the folks they represent across the country. We made a decision that simply listening to the plights of moms and dads who can barely afford to fill the family car was not enough.

Americans want action that will confront these rising prices head on. So earlier this month, I joined 25 other members of Congress in launching the “House Energy Action Team” (HEAT) — a group dedicated to stopping the rising costs of fuel and energy. Our goals are simple and straightforward: promote policies that lower the price of gas and keep energy affordable.

Those of us in this group agree that we should pursue any and all forms of energy in order to increase supply in order to lower prices — an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy. We’re all working toward the day when we are no longer dependent on fossil fuels, but the stark truth is that while alternative energy sources continue to show promise we still need affordable gas to keep our businesses running and transport our families.

HEAT’s action agenda will focus on increased production of existing energy sources, and also promote the development of alternative energy such as biomass and solar. A comprehensive approach is the only way to affordable energy.

The issue of gas and energy prices isn’t simply an economic issue; it is also an issue of national security. Many have argued that our need to import energy has caused America to become far too involved in the internal conflicts of unstable nations. The more we increase our domestic energy production and increase our energy independence, the less we have to rely on foreign governments that may not like us very much.

I’m excited to get to work with the HEAT initiative. Already since our launch, we have supported and Congress passed legislation to move ahead on the permitting for expanded U.S. energy exploration. There is much more work to be done, and I plan on taking a comprehensive approach to our energy policy in this country.

For instance, the 2012 budget I supported instructs that tax loopholes should be closed for big corporations — including big oil companies. I also believe we should end wasteful taxpayer subsidies for ethanol, and instead allow energy producers to compete on a level playing field. 

My goal is an increased energy supply, because that means lower prices for families here in Southwest Washington.

To read this article online at The Chronicle, please click here.