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Working Together to Relieve Our Nation's Energy Crisis By: Senator Blanche Lincoln and Senator Mark Pryor

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Working Together to Relieve Our Nation's Energy Crisis By: Senator Blanche Lincoln and Senator Mark Pryor

Arkansas families are suffering because of record-high energy prices. They feel the pain every week when they put $4 per gallon gasoline into their trucks and cars and see the resources for other necessities like food, the mortgage payment, and clothes for their children dwindle. That pain is magnified even more for consumers in rural states. Arkansans are paying a higher proportion of their income-nearly 8 percent-on gasoline than the national average and working families and small businesses in our state are at a breaking point.

Instead of partisan finger-pointing, Congress must work together to alleviate the financial pressure that energy prices are putting on working families and businesses. We must explore short-term solutions, while also developing and implementing a long-term strategy that focuses on renewable energy, responsible domestic drilling, conservation, and new energy technologies.

That is why we have joined with eight of our Senate colleagues to rise above the partisan politics that have bogged down real action in recent weeks and months and propose a bipartisan solution to the energy problems plaguing our nation. Known as the "Gang of 10," we have a simple message: "This growing crisis demands urgent action, and we must come together in a bipartisan way to develop comprehensive energy legislation for now and for the future."

Shortly before the August state work period, our group unveiled a broad proposal to reduce gas prices, lessen our nation's dependence on foreign oil, and strengthen America's economy. The New Energy Reform Act of 2008 (the "New ERA") calls for a focused effort to transition our nation's old energy economy to a new energy economy. One of the ways we do this is to move vehicle fleets to fuels other than gasoline and diesel. To ease gas prices in the interim, our proposal also includes significant conservation provisions, consumer tax credits, and increases domestic production through drilling.

We are hopeful that our compromise energy plan will generate a groundswell of support among the American people as well as our colleagues in Congress. We are already starting to see some serious discussion of our plan in the news media and among the Presidential candidates.

In addition, our coalition sent a letter to the Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle in June to propose the idea of a bipartisan summit of energy experts in an effort to develop a plan for securing our nation's energy independence. We are proud that Senate leaders have agreed to convene this effort when we return to Washington next month.

As we look ahead, it is critical that our nation begin taking ownership of our energy consumption. No longer can we depend on other countries for our primary source of fuel. The time for action is now. Arkansas families and businesses are in desperate need of relief, and we must get serious and commit to a new energy direction. Our economy, our security, and our future as a nation depend upon it.


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