I have long called for a new energy policy for America where we invest in the Midwest instead of the Middle East. Families are continually being squeezed by rising energy costs, and if we are ever going to get at the root of this problem we simply must cure ourselves of our addiction to foreign oil. That is why I authored the Biogas Production Incentive Act, which would provide incentives for dairy farmers to turn methane gas into energy, as well as a bill that would have shifted more Farm Bill money to renewable energy projects on the farm. As a co-Chair of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, I will continue to seek out and support new technologies that will produce home-grown, clean energy.
The most significant stride the current Congress has made toward achieving a forward-looking energy policy was passing the Energy Independence and Security Act, H.R. 6, which was signed into law in late 2007 and I was proud to support. This historic bill will work to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, lower energy costs, create new jobs, and begin to address global climate change.
Specifically, this law raises fuel efficiency standards for the first time since 1975, taking cars and light trucks to 35 mpg by 2020, a 40% increase over current standards. It also makes a landmark commitment to energy efficiency in government buildings, increased production of home-grown biofuels, and research and development of the next generation of energy technology.
Like most things, energy independence starts at home, in places like western Wisconsin, where ordinary citizens are partnering with local businesses to meet energy challenges. Farmers across our district are erecting windmills, turning manure and methane gas into electricity, and squeezing ethanol out of corn. Families are using energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, and buying hybrid cars. With the help of your innovation and commitment to this cause, we will be on our way to energy independence.
Conserving our Natural Resources
We who live and work in the Mississippi River basin are blessed with some of the most abundant and magnificent natural resources in the world. I enjoy nothing more than spending time with my two boys out on the river or in a deer stand or duck blind, and making sure these natural treasures are there for my children and their children to enjoy has been one of my primary missions since coming to Congress. I believe this stewardship role is one of the governments most fundamental tasks.
Bringing my Wisconsin values to Washington, I continue to advocate for the kind of conservation that is so important to our way of life. Because our state Wisconsin is home to seven National Wildlife Refuges, I formed the bipartisan Congressional National Wildlife Refuge Caucus to raise the profile of these often overlooked national treasures. In 2007 we secured one of the largest budget increases in the 100-year history of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
As the current co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, I also have championed funding for wildlife habitat on both federal and private lands, as well as access to these lands for hunting and fishing opportunities. Further, I continue to be a strong advocate for adequate wildlife protections, most recently in pushing the Bush Administration to continue to monitor and protect the Bald Eagle once it was removed from the endangered species list.
Finally, not forgetting where I came from, I have focused my efforts on improving the quality of the Upper Mississippi River. I chair the Upper Mississippi River Basin Task Force, and I am the author of a bill called the Upper Mississippi River Basin Protection Act. This bill would allow the government to identify where pollution enters the river system and target scarce conservation dollars appropriately.
I am proud that America leads the world when it comes to conserving its land, water, and wildlife resources. But this tradition did not happen by accident. It was founded and continually reinforced by great leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt, Aldo Loepold, and Gaylord Nelson. I will continue to work in the vein of these men to make sure the residents of western Wisconsin continue to have access to the best our natural world has to offer.