By Diane Wetzel
Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith took a break from Capital Hill this week to return to his home district and talk to his constituents. The congressman was in North Platte at Heidi's Restaurant on Thursday morning, where he answered questions on a variety of topics.
Smith's tour of the western part of the state is ostensibly to discuss the proposed Farm Bill in Congress, but those in the audience had questions on a myriad of issues, ranging from food stamp reform to the price of coal.
With the current Farm Bill expiring in September, Congress may not get around to dealing with the matter until after the November elections.
"Agriculture is a non-partisan issue, which is refreshing," Smith told his audience. "And it plays a fundamental role in the economic future of Nebraska and our economy."
Responding to a question about energy, Smith noted North Platte's contribution to the coal industry via transportation of coal on the Union Pacific Railroad.
However, "we should avoid instilling too much expectations on one energy source," he said. "We need to incorporate all forms of energy, wind, solar, nuclear, coal, fossil fuels, they all contribute to the mix. Someone lobbied me recently about having the railroad transport wind turbines instead of coal. That's not very realistic."
The current administration in the White House doesn't like coal, he said.
"They wanted cap and trade and we pushed back," he said. "They supported cap and trade but don't like high gas prices at the pump. That's inconsistent."
It all boils down to the economy, the congressman said during an interview after the event.
"The economy will get rolling again and a growing economy solves so many problems," he said.