The Real Energy Problem
by Eric Massa, Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 10:03:12 AM EST
The reason I want to talk about this again is that heating costs this winter are projected to be extremely high, but Congress -including my opponent Randy Kuhl - has not acted responsibly to address either the short term or long term issues related to these high energy costs.
Prices for natural gas this winter are projected to hit $1,568, which is 48% more than last year. Homes using heating oil are looking at total costs of around $1,666, which is 32% more that last year.
This failure to provide necessary home heating assistance is just one part of the much bigger picture of irresponsible behavior and a lack of compassion by our Congress for those who needs its help the most. In total, our Republican-led Congress, including Randy Kuhl, has cut $50 billion from programs that provide vital assistance to the poor. (link) Tax cuts by Congress, mostly for the wealthy, total $90 billion. (link. Think of it as Robin Hood in reverse: taking from the poor and helpless to give to the rich.
Back to the topic of the rise in heating costs, it is also very important for us to understand that these increases do not just affect home and family budgets. They affect businesses both small and large.
Small businesses make up 90% of the economy in the U.S. and the 29th district, and they are going to be crunched under the rising costs in heating oil. These record increases impact operating expenses, transportation and delivery costs, among other things. Much of these costs will eventually be passed on to the consumer through higher prices for everything from commodities to consumer credit.
The effects of these rising heating costs cover a broad spectrum of various issues. When businesses have to pay more for heating costs, especially with the significant price increases we are already seeing, it is inevitable that people will be laid off in order to make up the difference. Or prices will have to be raised, which makes it harder for them to compete in global markets.
The bottom line is we need to change our outlook on this vital issue. Oil is the driving source for our economy, and until we can move away from it, we will continue to be dragged down by it. Furthermore, no one knows how close we are to tapping all available sources of oil. This is why it is important for us to move away from our oil dependencies.
President Bush has recently mentioned the affects of rising heating costs on families and small businesses. (link) But, as demonstrated by the priorities set forth in the Energy Bill, his real focus in that section of his speech was on how to help Big Oil and other energy producers. He ignores the short term needs of consumers and offers only token plans on how to move away from dependence on oil.
Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska is even threatening to tie up the Defense Appropriations Bill (link) with his selfish and short-sighted insistence on drilling in ANWR.
We need better leadership to adequately address the needs of the 21st century. There are simple steps we can take that will make our nation cleaner and safer and put more money into our pockets. It could be as simple as phasing in hybrid cars over the next ten years, or beginning to build more energy efficient "green" buildings. Investing in alternative energy and energy efficiency could help grow businesses both big and small, which would provide much needed jobs
This is not hard, it just takes the right people with new ideas. There are lots of ideas to consider. Apollo Alliance, the Renewable Energy Policy Project, the Natural Resources Defense Council and even small groups of bloggers (link) have offered useful suggestions. And there are many others working on these issues.
But our federal government and its leaders are not adequately addressing either our short term or long term energy needs. Instead they put politically motivated legislation on the House floor, and continue to ignore the real problems we are facing. We can overcome our dependence on oil and provide new jobs at the same time, but not with the current leadership and representation we have today.
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