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Courier-Post - "Pennacchio calls for less U.S. dependence on foreign oil"

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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Courier-Post - "Pennacchio calls for less U.S. dependence on foreign oil"

Joseph Pennacchio is ready to put the pedal to the metal to produce more energy, the state senator from Morris County said Thursday, in a drive that would include construction of more nuclear power plants and extraction of oil from shale in the West.

"Ridding ourselves of oil dependency is the cornerstone of my campaign," Pennacchio said in an interview with the editorial board of the Courier-Post.

The 52-year-old dentist and self-described "Average Joe" is one of three Republicans seeking his party's nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Frank Lautenberg.

Dependence on foreign oil has weakened the country's economy and led it into foreign policy blunders to such an extent, Pennacchio said, that the country "must reach energy independence in 10 years."

Noting that Congress and the president agreed earlier this year to send $600 back to individuals and $1,200 to couples, Pennacchio said that oil prices have already dampened its effect.

"They voted to put $150 billion back into the economy when oil was at $92 a barrell," he said. "Now it's $130. Before the money's even in our pockets, the stimulus is gone."

Touting the virtues of nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuel -- no carbon emissions, better technology than existed when existing plants were built -- Pennacchio said "we understand that there are environmental concerns."

"The standards will have to be met, whether we're talking about oil or nuclear," he said, but one way or another, the country must wean itself off foreign oil.

"This nonsense has to stop because we're in crisis," he said.

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