By Brad Zinn
With gas prices hovering near the $4 mark, on Friday Congressman Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, visited fuel stops from Roanoke to Mount Crawford, including the Petro Stopping Center in Raphine.
The Congressman's message was clear -- ramp up energy production in the United States, a move Goodlatte said would benefit sectors of transportation, manufacturing and agriculture and pry the country away from what he labeled the cartels in the Middle East, Nigeria and Venezuela.
"In the long term, you'll see a much better picture," he said of job growth and the economy.
Although Goodlatte said he has no problem with alternative fuels, he said those markets are still fledgling while answers to America's energy concerns are right here, right now.
"I'm telling you, if you produce the energy closer to home, you're going to create more jobs here," Goodlatte said while speaking to Bobby Berkstresser, owner of Petro Stopping Center. Petro was known as White's Truck Stop before being purchased by Berkstresser more than two years ago.
Goodlatte said he supports the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would stretch from Canada to Texas, and also said the House has passed a measure that would support off-shore gas and oil exploration off the coast of Virginia. The Senate, he said, has yet to act on the legislation.
Petro covers about 40 acres with 450 parking spots for trucks and serves about 2,000 truckers per day, according to Berkstresser. Although profitable, Berkstresser said high fuel costs are cutting into his bottom line.
"They spend less inside," he said.
Besides Petro, on Friday Goodlatte visited a Roanoke trucking company and was headed to a Mount Crawford gas station.