By Brian Troutman
If you were at the Northbridge Exxon at about 10 a.m. Wednesday, you may have seen him.
In an effort to drum up action on high energy prices and connect with local constituents, Rep. Tim Scott was at the gas station pumping gas, offering to clean windshields and listening to the concerns of residents in his district.
Scott said the event Wednesday came natural. He said he joined the American workforce when he was a 13-year-old, pumping gas and cleaning windshields. As he spoke to those at the pumps about the importance of reducing the price of energy, he spoke of the event as a success.
The republican member of Congress said time at the pump provided the opportunity to connect with those not in attendance at town hall meetings. He said the importance of reducing the price of energy and raising awareness about energy-related concerns is a priority.
"This really makes me more accessible to the person that doesn't want to come to a meeting, doesn't want to sit with a group of folks, wants to have a one-on-one conversation, even if it is just for a few minutes," Scott said.
Scott used the backdrop at the gas station as an icebreaker of sorts. He said it allowed him to address an issue on the mind of everyone there as they pulled up to the pumps.
"When you listen to the stories in the cars, you walk away realizing that this is not a political issue to most people," Scott said. "This is an issue that hits the pocketbooks, and hits the wallets and then hits the families."
"...The importance of reducing the price of energy in this country is absolutely one of the most important things we can work on in Congress."
Scott argues America has an "amazing energy opportunity." He hopes the next president will focus on energy independence.
"Out of all the nations on the Earth, America has the greatest reserves when you combine coal, gas and oil. What I hope our next president will be talking about is the opportunity to excavate that energy and work towards energy independence," Scott said. "...To start that conversation would literally... reduce the price at the pumps. It would set us on the course of creating more than a million jobs in 12 months, and it would set us free from the entanglements in the Middle East and our dependence on Middle East oil."
Among other issues, Scott said he answered questions about education, the environment and veteran support. He heard the story of one Vietnam veteran -- a veteran who tearfully told the politician that the county needs to do more to help those who fought to preserve freedom.
"Our resources need to be directed towards those folks who paid the price to make sure that freedom is alive and well for the rest of us who lay our heads down on pillows at night with the assumption that everything's gonna be alright," Scott said. "Most of the time, it's because someone else is making that sacrifice on our behalf. That's what makes America great."
Since January 2009, average gas prices across the nation have risen from $1.84 a gallon to $3.84 a gallon according to AAA. A recent study by The Atlantic showed that every one cent increase in the price of gas costs American consumers $1.2 billion a year, and a U.S. Chamber survey shows 80 percent of American small business owners cite higher energy prices as an immediate threat to their business.