America Needs a Sustainable Energy Policy
As a member of Congress, I will make development of a sustainable energy policy a top priority.
As a nation, we must work toward a long-term energy policy that: 1) creates new American jobs; 2) emphasizes greater energy independence; 3) invests in the development of alternative fuels; 4) promotes clean energy technology like wind and solar; 5) ensures greater national security; and 6) provides automakers with incentives for producing fuel-efficient vehicles.
We also need to do a better job of building housing and employment centers nearer to one another to reduce commutes. And we need to invest in making all our communities more pedestrian- and bicycle- friendly, like we did in the community of Bird Rock while I was on San Diego City Council. Bird Rock has been held out as a case study by federal transportation authorities, and has won awards from public works associations, engineers, and the Urban Lands Institute.
The transportation bill ends funds for bike lanes and sidewalks, and ends the critically important "Safe Routes to School" program, which helps neighborhoods pay for infrastructure improvements that keep kids from getting hurt or killed while walking and bicycling to and from school every day. So less money for public transit and more money for freeways when gas prices are skyrocketing -- this makes no sense. And it doesn't get us any closer to a practical and sustainable national energy policy that reduces our nation's dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil.
I am the co-founder of a national organization called the Walkable and Liveable Communities Institute, which helps city planners find ways to incorporate more bike paths and pedestrian-friendly streets and sidewalks so that people can get around without their cars. This, too, should be a part of our plan for a more sustainable energy policy and greater energy independence.
What Can Congress Do About Gas Prices?
When gas prices are high, more people (particularly seniors, students, and others on fixed incomes) turn to public transportation for a reliable, affordable way to get to work, school, and around town. Yet in February, House Republicans, with incumbent Congressman Brian Bilbray in lock step, proposed a highway bill that ends three decades of support for public transportation.
Congress can act now to stop price-gouging at the pump by holding Wall Street commodities traders and speculators more accountable. Experts agree that speculation in energy markets drives up the price of oil, which raises the price of gas for consumers. Last year, House Democrats tried to increase funding for the agency in charge of policing price manipulation in oil markets. But Republicans, Bilbray included, voted to slash these funds by almost half.
Over time, Congress must develop and support a long-term energy strategy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels altogether. But there are also steps Congress can, and should, be taking now.
We've got to stop subsidizing oil companies! Last year, the five largest oil companies posted record profits of $137 billion. That's a 75% increase over 2010. Yet, House Republicans, Bilbray included, continue to support enormous tax breaks, deregulation, and subsidies for them, while taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from them. Brian Bilbray alone has taken almost $190,000 from the oil and gas industry. Are the votes and the contributions connected? The voters are smart and they'll decide for themselves.