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May 23rd, 2011

Pain at the Pump Means Less for Groceries, Clothes and Family Vacations

By Iowa Congressman Tom Latham

We all get the same sick feeling each time we visit a gas station these days.  With each tick upwards in price at the pump our monthly income in terms of purchasing power decreases.  More for fuel means less for groceries, clothes, and the family vacation fund.

There is a growing anger and frustration when people think about how Washington and Congress have not listened to them and have provided absolutely no leadership or solutions on a comprehensive national energy policy that would finally address our short and long term energy needs.  And the anger is justified because America’s leaders in Washington have absolutely failed them on this issue.

The real effects of our misdirection on an energy policy were evident just in the past few days with AAA’s pre-Memorial Day travel survey in which the over $1.06 a gallon jump in the national average of gas over a year ago has led forty percent of would-be travelers to say that “gas prices would have an impact on their vacation planning.”

More troubling for our overall economic health is the havoc that increased fuel prices are having on our economic recovery in the Midwest.  This week Creighton University released their monthly study of the economic health of Midwestern states showing that economic growth and recovery has slowed considerably due to one factor – high gas prices.  The lead economist of the index stated that, “Bankers remain concerned about the level and growth in energy prices. Given the importance of energy prices to agriculture, any significant increase in oil prices would certainly reduce business confidence.”

While energy prices continue to spin out of control the leadership in Washington did nothing to give Americans real financial relief.  Misguided and out-of-touch politicians in Washington instead focused on enacting higher taxes and costs on energy through failed job destroying cap-and-trade schemes.  Everyone knows that those ideas will do nothing to lower the cost of gas by a single penny.  In fact, if the cap-and-trade scheme been enacted into law you would have seen an estimated additional 50 cents a gallon tax added right at your local gas station’s pump in addition to thousands of dollars a year increases in the utility costs of Iowa families, farms and small businesses.

Congress and our nation’s leadership need a wake-up call on energy.  No more excuses!  It is time that we seriously work to enact a comprehensive common-sense national energy policy that increases clean, safe and responsible American energy production that is controlled by Americans, encourages conservation and develops innovative renewable energy sources.

Earlier in May, I was named to an important energy task force in the U.S. Congress to promote real solutions to our country’s energy challenges.  I’ll work with a team of about 30 other members of the House of Representatives to highlight the need for a comprehensive energy strategy in this country, something we’ve been sorely lacking for too long.

Much of the House Energy Action Team’s job will be communicating to the American public and to the rest of Congress the importance of a comprehensive national energy strategy.  We’ll also work to promote common-sense solutions that should be part of a national policy.  I share your frustration with the lack of leadership in Washington on energy issues.  That’s why I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with my colleagues on the task force to promote common-sense energy policies that will lower costs and encourage job creation.

I have long supported an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy.  That means we’ll expand energy production here in the United States while encouraging conservation and development of innovative renewable fuel sources.  As always, I’ll make sure renewable fuels produced in Iowa, such as ethanol, play a major part in the discussion.

The next time you are filling up at the gas station know that I hear your frustration and that I am working in Washington with one simple mandate on energy: No more excuses, and no more empty promises.  It’s time to focus on real solutions to solve our energy challenges.

As part of the House Energy Action Team, I’ll work to advance the energy solutions our country needs.  Further inaction is simply irresponsible because the consequences of failure are unacceptable.

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The Iowa Republican

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