Weekly Columns

Energy Independence Should Be A Job Creator, Not A Job Killer

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Washington, April 17, 2010 | comments
Recently, the President announced his new proposal for offshore drilling. Some argue this was a political tactic by the Administration to further their agenda and pass cap and trade legislation. Nonetheless, I hope the President is being sincere about efforts to use our resources here at home because ultimately our nation needs a common-sense, comprehensive energy plan that moves us to sustained energy independence. Gaining this independence is a matter of national security for the United States.

The proposal to drill on the Outer Continental Shelf is a step in the right direction, and an important part of the formula to bring us to closer to energy independence. In the short-term, it is essential that we take these steps to ensure our nation is not held hostage to the prices set by the Middle East. However, we should go further and look for new sources of oil from Alaska and from the shale in the west.

Drilling is not the ultimate solution. We need to use American innovation to accelerate technology that burns coal more cleanly because it is an abundant energy source in our country. Furthermore, we need to build new liquefied natural gas facilities, which will increase our natural gas capacity.

Certainly, our path to energy independence should not stop with conventional fuels. Over the long run, I believe we need to develop and implement new alternative energy sources and technologies. We can incentivize the development of wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy. Moreover, we can use agricultural products and hydro technologies to turn our natural resources into energy producers. Ultimately, we must increase the amount of nuclear power because it is reliable and emission-free and work to dispose of spent fuel rods either through a central disposal site or by reprocessing.

Energy independence is one of the greatest goals we can achieve as a nation. The solution to reduce rising energy costs involves looking forward, not backward. That is why linking the President’s recent drilling proposal to the job-killing cap and trade legislation is a non-starter in my book. If he is using this tactic to gain support for broad new taxes and restrictions on energy use in our country, the American people will not fall for it. Everyone I talk to in East Tennessee understands that cap and trade will impose a regressive national energy tax that can only result in a net job loss.

It is simple, rather than inflicting a penalty tax on companies through the cap and trade legislation, we should create a tax credit that incentivizes companies to use innovation to reduce emissions. This way we are not punishing American workers with the “cap and tax” measure that will send our jobs overseas.

Because bringing down the cost of energy will not happen overnight, it is important to consider ways we can all make our own use of energy more efficient. I stand ready to work together with Congress and the Administration to come up with a logical solution to becoming energy independent, reduce our emissions while growing our economy and enhancing our national security.
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