Energy Solutions that make Sense to our Pocketbooks and our Future

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Our country's next great national project must be to shed our dependence on foreign oil. We need to approach this task with the same enthusiasm and intensity with which we approached President John F. Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once pointed out that "progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability"; in other words, meaningful changes will not happen by themselves. Dr. King's words apply just as much today as they did forty-five years ago. We must act now to make our country better.

I believe America's dependence on foreign oil (up from 22 percent in 1970 to 70 percent of our oil today) threatens more than just our economy-- it threatens our national security. Our country must find the leadership and political courage to change course and implement a National Energy Independence Plan. To maximize efficiency, this Plan should coordinate research and development between the public and private sectors. Our policies must include smart additional drilling for oil and natural gas, more substantial development of energy alternatives, and conservation education programs to help people take advantage of new technologies. These solutions should lower the cost and environmental impact of energy while creating an immense number of jobs in new technology industries.

I believe our immediate strategy should be to go after all the domestic energy we can responsibly get; we should target both fossil fuels and renewables. I also believe our long-term goal must be to operate mostly on renewable energy producers such as wind, solar, geothermal, and other sources of power. Congress needs to increase funding for renewable research initiatives such as cellulosic ethanol that can replace our dependence on fossil fuels, lower harmful emissions, and leave intact the international food supply-- which corn-based ethanol production fails to do.

Humanity has begun to make great progress with renewable energy. In its 2007 Global Status Report, the international Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century showed that worldwide renewable energy use doubled from 2004 to 2007. In March 2006, the U.S. Department of Energy projected that we can channel 76% of our country's new energy demands into renewable programs between now and 2050. Many of these programs involve wind and solar power, two of the world's fastest-growing renewable energy technologies. We need to embrace these trends so domestic companies can develop clean and sustainable systems and then profit by them in world markets. The opportunities for improving our economic, environmental, and military security- by building clean domestic industries instead of funding foreign oil companies- are enormous.

Yet John Linder, our current Congressman, has no such vision. Despite the recent impressive growth of our country's renewable energy industries, and despite the enormous potential for further development, Mr. Linder recently wrote that supporting wind, solar, and geothermal energy development is "terrible policy... We simply cannot replace our fossil fuel use with renewable energy." It takes a lack of faith in American ingenuity to say something cannot happen while it is happening everywhere and can clearly develop here. Mr. Linder insists we should only increase domestic oil production, but this poorly-conceived, short-term solution would fail to capture the considerable economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy.

Unfortunately, Congressman Linder insists on looking backward, not forward, for energy solutions. Our children and grandchildren will live in the world we create, and they will appreciate our having been forward-thinkers.

Doug Heckman is candidate for U.S. Congress. I am asking for your vote to send me to the United States Congress. To find out more why you should vote for me, please visit www.dougheckman.com.

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