Honorable Steve Kagen, M.D.

Wisconsin's former 8th District Representative

January 4, 2007 to December 22, 2010

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A Comprehensive National Energy Policy Will Lead to a Better Future

Posted on Oct 1, 2008 by

Congressman Kagen Op-Ed

A Comprehensive National Energy Policy Will Lead to a Better Future

To solve our crippling crisis of impossible gasoline prices that are over $4 per gallon, we need a comprehensive national energy strategy, and we need leaders who are on our side – not Big Oil.  

Where is this administration’s energy plan?

This crisis was totally predictable and unfortunately it is forcing every family, every business, and governments at every level to operate in a perpetual state of “crisis planning.”  In fact, today’s impossible gas prices are threatening the survival of major manufacturers and small businesses alike, even as ongoing speculation in oil futures remains unrestrained.  The truth is there is no shortage of fuel – we just don’t have the money in our pockets to buy the energy we need.  

There is a better way of doing things.  Although alternative energies won’t be ready to meet our needs for a number of years, we can’t just wait any longer to make plans for our energy independence.  We need to start producing more of our own energy right now.  If we want to keep more of our money at home, support the U.S. economy and provide American jobs, then we must produce more of our own oil and gas.

It is time to say “No!” to the campaign cash handed out by Big Oil’s corporate lobbyists and other special interests.  The first priority is to stop pointing fingers and instead join hands to create a comprehensive national energy plan — not behind closed doors, but right here in the open.  For months, I have advocated the following steps.

   * Drill for new oil and natural gas in America.  Our nation has substantial untapped oil reserves, both under federal lands already leased to oil companies and offshore in U.S. territory.  With appropriate safeguards – like giving states the right to decide if they will allow drilling off of their shores – these reserves should be drilled, and the oil extracted from them should be made available to American citizens first.

   * Invest in renewable energy.  We must move beyond fossil fuels toward renewable sources of energy.   Washington’s role should include promoting millions of new jobs with tax incentives for U.S. companies investing in this new technology.

   * Prevent price manipulation.  Stopping unfair speculation in the oil markets can immediately lower the price of gas at the pump and provide families and small business with relief.  Also, I have called on the President and his allies to sell a portion of our Strategic Petroleum Reserve on the domestic market to instantly increase supply and cut gas prices.

These three steps are fundamental to the success of an independent energy future for America and will create millions of new jobs.

In the coming days, Congress will take up a comprehensive energy package that will provide relief for consumers, end our dependence on foreign oil, create millions of jobs and grow our economy.  We must promote efficiency and invest in renewable sources of energy, responsibly increase domestic supply by opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling, with appropriate safeguards, and without taxpayer subsidies to oil companies and require the oil companies to pay the billions of dollars they owe in royalties to invest in clean energy resources.

It is my hope that this will be a bipartisan energy bill that addresses all of these concerns.  I look forward to joining my Democratic and Republican colleagues in Congress to try a different approach: working together on a legislative solution.  It requires compromise, and in the legislative process, that’s how things get done.

None of this will be easy, and some of it won’t be quick.  The time is right to craft a national energy policy that allows working families in Wisconsin to spend less of their money padding the bank accounts of oil executives — and more of it on themselves. By working together, we will build an energy independent future for all of us.

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