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Stender Discusses Gas Prices, Energy

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Location: Scotch Plains, NJ


Stender Discusses Gas Prices, Energy

When Assemblywoman Linda Stender pulled into the Route 22 Lukoil gas station in a Chevrolet Suburban on Tuesday, she encountered a sight that until recently would have seemed like a bad dream: Gas prices that read $3.83 for regular, $3.93 for plus, $4.11 for premium and $4.97 for diesel.

Those prices have gone up more than $2 since 2001, and have increased an average of 38 cents in just the past month, according to AAA. With prices likely to spike again in the coming summer months, the cost of gas has become a pressing topic for aspiring politicians.

Stender, the presumptive Democratic nominee in the 7th Congressional District, said gas prices are part of a broader energy crisis that affects national security, foreign policy, the environment and above all, the economy.

"Families should not have to make decisions between food and health care and getting to work," said Stender.

But unlike the Republican candidates who squared off in a forum last week, Stender did not call for expanded oil drilling to address the situation. A greater reliance on fossil fuels was a key part of America's approach to the 1970s energy crisis, she said, and that was a mistake which should not be repeated.

Instead, Stender said, America should invest in new technologies and alternative energy sources.

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, the veteran South Carolina congressman who was on hand to support Stender's candidacy, echoed her sentiments. "We believe there should be a smorgasbord of energy sources -- wind, solar, bio-diesel," Clyburn said.

In the short term, Stender and Clyburn support bipartisan legislation, recently signed into law, which temporarily halts new shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Clyburn said such a step could "lower gas prices 24 cents immediately," though not everyone agrees with that estimate. A recent report by The Institute for Energy Research, for example, concluded that the SPR deposits of 40,000 barrels per day represent only about 0.3 percent of US crude oil supply -- not enough to make a big difference one way or the other.

Stender also voiced her support for other short- and medium-term measures, such as tax incentives for hybrid vehicles and the Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act. That act would create a task force to examine the existence and effects of price gouging, and would give the Justice Department power to take legal action against OPEC state-controlled entities that are found to be engaging in conspiracies to limit oil supply or fix prices.

In the long term, though, she called for the nation to rely more on alternative fuel sources, such as solar, wind and geothermal. Stender was the key legislative sponsor of New Jersey's Global Warming Response Act, which calls for an 80 percent reduction in emissions that lead to global warming by 2050.

"This is not something I think will get fixed overnight," Stender said. "There are very serious long-term effects."


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