By Hasso Hering
Art Robinson says reduced regulation and taxation could lead to a revival of the American energy and industry in general.
The Republican candidate for the U.S. House spoke before the Albany Kiwanis Club at Pop's Branding Iron on Thursday.
The audience included Nick Batz, a field representative for Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio, whom Robinson is trying to keep from winning a 13th term.
The Republican, 68, a scientist and former codirector of the Linus Pauling Institute, hammered home his theme that American freedom has been diminished by a growing thicket of government regulation, which has stymied enterprise and investment in this country, and the only way back is to cut back the levels of taxation and regulation.
He would like to see all forms of energy production -- nuclear, coal, oil, natural gas, solar, wind and anything else -- compete without subsidies and incentives.
If nuclear energy had not been stymied for the last 30 years, the country would be exporting $300 billion worth of energy a year instead of importing $400 billion of oil, he maintained.
"And our steel would not be made in Korea," he said. "It would be made here."
Club member Don Rea challenged him on the regulation issue, pointing to the Gulf of Mexico oil leak disaster.
The Gulf, Robinson said, was a good example "of when people have to do nutty things to get energy."
"It's always a good idea to prevent a few people from doing irresponsible things," he said, but there are so many regulations now that oil drillers have to go three miles down to find energy.
"Our economy should not be running on oil."
According to Robinson, small startups including one begun by people from Oregon State were designing small nuclear power stations that could be used to power towns the size of Albany, but because of regulations they will be built and used in India, China and elsewhere, not in the United States.
He said America became an exceptional country in the 19th and early 20th century not because Americans were genetically superior but because people from all over the world came to this country because of freedom.
"The only way back," he said, "economically and socially, is to go back to the American exceptionalism we had."