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McKeon op-ed at FlashReport.org: Economic Recovery Depends on Energy Solutions
The following commentary from Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), the senior Republican on the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, appears online at FlashReport.org.
First, the bad news. At the time of this writing, retail gas prices have hit record highs for 22 straight days. The nationwide average for a gallon of regular gasoline now stands at $3.95, with 11 states and the nation’s capital now above the once-unimaginable $4 per gallon threshold.
Instead of traveling to the landmarks that honor our fallen soldiers or spending time with family and friends, many Americans were forced to stay home this Memorial Day. And the impact of rising fuel prices has not been confined to Americans’ travel habits. The cost of fuel has rippled through the economy, driving up the cost of food and other consumer goods and forcing schools to cut back on programs and services or consider limiting the number of school days. Fuel costs are also squeezing small businesses, making it difficult to create new jobs or even maintain the jobs that exist today.
Rising energy costs are among the most pressing concerns for American families, and are a primary factor in creating an atmosphere of economic insecurity.
It’s easy to see why few Americans can discern any good news in our energy future. But there is a silver lining to this dark cloud, if you know where to look.
Last week, congressional Republicans unveiled an energy strategy designed to directly combat factors that are driving up fuel costs, offering a path to energy independence and economic improvement.
The Republican plan will increase, in an environmentally-conscious manner, the production of American-made energy, which will bring down gas prices while creating jobs here at home. By cutting red tape and increasing the supply of homegrown fuel and energy, we can ease the pain being felt at the pump while bolstering our economic recovery with the creation of new jobs and the growth of new industries.
It’s the same reason Republicans propose new, clean, and reliable energy sources like advanced nuclear and next generation coal. Instead of allowing the rest of the world to pass us by, Republicans believe Americans should be leading the effort to promote energy innovation. By staying on the cutting edge of clean, safe energy alternatives, we can grow our economy while reducing our reliance on the uncertainty of foreign oil.
Republicans also know that by helping Americans to help themselves, we can produce small changes that will make a big difference. To that end, Republicans will encourage greater energy efficiency by offering conservation tax incentives to Americans who make their home, car, or business more energy efficient.
As the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, I view America’s energy challenges through the prism of our nation’s schools and businesses, which are facing a unique set of challenges thanks to these record high fuel prices.
Colleges and universities are scaling back to four day weeks, schools are cutting back on field trips and activities, and school lunch prices are going up. Small businesses are taking steps to absorb higher fuel costs as well, hiring fewer employees, changing delivery routes to conserve gasoline, or cutting back on services. However, in many cases, even after tightening their belts, small businesses often have no choice but to pass along their increased costs to consumers, further hampering an already struggling economy.
Earlier this week, I spent time at a gas station in Valencia, California to speak with and hear directly from my constituents who are grappling with ever-rising fuel prices. With a Pelosi Premium of $1.62, representing a 70 percent increase in the price of gasoline since Democrats took control of Congress, Americans will not stay silent on this issue.
We owe it to our students, teachers, workers, and small businesses to embrace an energy plan that will increase production, emphasize innovation, and promote conservation. While congressional Democrats stubbornly refuse to reveal their long-promised plan to bring down the price of gas, Republicans are offering concrete solutions that will make a real difference for our energy future, and our economic future.