Pursue Hydropower and Nuclear Energyfrom U.S. Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID)
Letter to Bluefish, August 1, 2001
Thank you for contacting me regarding our nation's need for a comprehensive national energy policy. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns.
I want to assure you that I share your concern for the environment and your desire for a balanced approach to expanding our nation's energy supply while at the same time encouraging a greater emphasis on conservation and renewable energy sources. I strongly believe that any effort to address our nation's energy supply and price problems must be comprehensive in nature and explore every opportunity to both reduce demand and increase supply. After all, those simple economic principles are at the heart of the difficulties we are now trying to address.
During the 107th Congress, I have been working on a number of proposals that I believe will improve our ability meet growing energy demand. I am a cosponsor of legislation (H.R. 876) to extend the wind energy tax credit until 2007. I have also cosponsored legislation (H.R. 1275) that provides a limited tax credit for statioinary fuel cell power plants that generate electricity using an electrochemical process and have an electricity-only generation efficiency greater than 30 percent. I remain optimistic that each of these proposals will boost efforts to increase the use of clean, alternative sources of energy.
I'm also proud to be an original cosponsor of two separate efforts to promote greater reliance upon renewable and alternative sources of energy. On February 14, 2001, I joined Congressman Greg Ganske (R-IA) in introducing H.R. 608 - Clean Air and Water Preservation Act of 2001. This legislation, if enacted, would not only phase out the use of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) in gasoline, it would also greatly expand the market for domestically-grown renewable energy like ethanol. H.R. 608 would also ensure that our nation's clean air requirements under the Reformulated Gasoline Program would remain in place for many of our nation's most congested areas.
To encourage the construction of new alternative, value-added ventures, I am also a strong supporter of H.R. 1093 - The Value-Added Development Act of American Agriculture. This legislation would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist agriculture producers who would like to form value-added agricultural businesses by providing technical, legal and business related expertise through the establishment of agriculture innovation demonstration programs.
While I believe each these important initiatives can help steer energy consumers toward greater energy efficiency and an increased use of renewable energy, I also believe that we must confront some of the realities surrounding our nation's lack of an energy policy throughout the past decade. I am convinced that the Clinton Administration's systematic neglect for the energy needs of our growing economy is directly responsible for the energy supply and price concerns now gripping the nation.
I would like to share with you just a few numbers that demonstrate the way in which the previous Administration virtually crippled our domestic oil and gas capabilities. Since 1992, when President Clinton took office, U.S. oil production has been reduced by 17% while our consumption of oil has increased by 14%. In 1990, U.S. jobs in oil and gas exploration and production were roughly 405,000 - today those jobs have been reduced to roughly 290,000, a 27% decline. And in 1990, the U.S. was home to 657 working oil rigs. Today, there are only 153 working oil rigs scattered across the nation - a 77% decline. Those numbers alone represent clear evidence that there have been serious flaws with the way in which our nation's domestic energy policies have been formulated over the past decade.
Unfortunately for energy consumers, our domestic oil and gas industry was not the only portion of the energy sector targeted over the last 8 years by the previous Administration. Former President Clinton's energy legacy will also be noted for his desire to dramatically scale back, or end, the use of many of our primary means of baseload electricity generation - including coal, hydropower, and nuclear.
Compounding the problem for our region is the haphazard way in which California enacted energy deregulation and the unwillingness of its politicians to pass along the consequences of their decisions to constituents.
In the short term, those ill-founded policies will continue to hurt the economy and force utilities, states, and the federal government to play catch-up while we get the current energy problems under control. In the long-term, however, I firmly believe a renewed emphasis on strengthening our domestic energy policy will allow us to turn the corner and meet the enery needs of a growing economy.
I look forward to working with the new Administration and my colleagues in Congress throughout the coming days, weeks and months toward enacting a number of both short-term and long-term responses to the needs of farmers, families, businesses, the elderly, and all energy consumers. I've been a strong supporter of renewable and alternative energy technologies. I remain committed to finding new solutions for the baseload energy needs of our nation - including a renewed emphasis on nuclear power. And I'll continue to look for ways in which we might address the energy concerns unique to the Northwest - especially those related to hydropower.
The initiatives I've outlined in this letter represent only a small portion of the activities and programs I support to advance the common-sense goal of protecting the environment in a way to fosters economic growth and American ingenuity. I have never believed that we must sacrifice jobs and opportunities in the name of environmental protection, and I hope to continue to pursue policies than maintain that balance.
Once again, thank you for taking time to write to me with your concerns. The thoughts and opinions of Idahoans are important to me as your Representative in the United States Congress. I also encourage you to visit my website at www.house.gov/simpson to sign up for my week e-newsletter and to read more about my views on a variety of issues.
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