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Star Tribune - Minnesotans Deserve Energy Stability


Location: Washington, DC

By Representative John Kline

We must break down bureaucratic barriers and tap into the nation's abundant resources.

Lisa and her family live in southwest suburbs. They prefer the community, housing and schools there.

She commutes each day about 50 miles round-trip from Carver County to her job and describes herself as "hostage" to $4-per-gallon gas prices that hover near record highs. She said she feels like she's being "sucker punched with no means of self-defense."

Marc is a small-business owner in Lakeville. Like most small businesses in America, Marc's relies heavily on large trucks to transport his products.

He describes himself as one of the lucky business owners who will hopefully weather the recession, but he says his business and many others would benefit greatly from cheaper fuel.

Charles drives 100 miles round-trip from his home in Faribault to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for monthly medical treatments. When gas prices approached $3 per gallon, he reduced his travel other than the trips to Mayo.

To combat the rising energy costs, he also cut his grocery expenses and some medications, but he can't cut much more. His solution is straight and to the point: "Drill here, drill now, pay less."

It has been three years since I returned to Washington twice during an August district work period to call for then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow comprehensive energy legislation to be considered for a vote in the House of Representatives.

I joined many of my colleagues in supporting an all-of-the-above, common-sense energy approach that would create jobs and help America become more energy-independent. The "American Energy Act" I sponsored never received a vote.

Now, history is repeating itself. With the state's walleye fishing opener just days away -- an unofficial kickoff to the spring and summer travel season -- Minnesotans are facing $4-per-gallon gas.

Already battling a lengthy recession in which national unemployment has hovered near double digits for more than a year, Minnesotans are enduring an unstable housing market, uneasiness about their jobs, and uncertainty about their retirement security.
Some are forced to choose between paying their mortgages or buying their medications and groceries.

Last month, I hosted three town hall meetings throughout the Second District. I heard from countless Minnesotans who are fed up.
They have had enough of the government's wasteful spending and are wary of Washington kicking the can down the road and ignoring our mountain of debt. And once again, they are tired of feeling pain at the pump.

They want Washington to get out of the way so we can produce more American energy, lower gasoline prices and help small businesses begin hiring again.

I joined my House Republican colleagues earlier this year in launching the "American Energy Initiative," an ongoing effort focused on the simple solutions we need for a sensible, all-of-the-above energy policy.
Through the American Energy Initiative:

* We want to cut through the red tape and break down bureaucratic barriers to American energy production. Government should be promoting America's energy resources, not blocking their development.
* We have held dozens of hearings in the first few months of 2011 to identify the flawed policies that are standing in the way of greater American energy independence.
* We have offered specific legislation to eliminate permitting delays, block regulations that will drive up prices, and move forward on leases to allow energy exploration and development.

Last week, the House began to consider a series of bills that I cosponsored that will expand offshore energy production to create jobs, lower energy costs and generate revenue to help pay down the national debt.
In the coming months, we will continue working through the American Energy Initiative to promote the responsible development of all forms of energy.

Hard-working Minnesotans deserve stability with energy prices. Lisa's children and grandchildren deserve a more energy-independent America so they don't face the "sucker punch" she describes.

Folks like Charles shouldn't have to choose between buying gas and groceries. Small-business owners like Marc must be able to keep their costs low so they can create private-sector jobs and continue to drive our economy.

I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House to increase our energy independence by repealing costly mandates and unlocking America's abundant energy resources.

John Kline, a Republican, represents Minnesota Second District in the U.S. House.

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