The high cost of energy is the No. 1 issue on the minds of his constituents, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said in a stop at the Watertown Daily Times on Friday.
He pointed to what he called the failed energy strategies of the Obama administration and the primary reason why energy prices are high, and offered his own solutions to the growing problem.
He said, “Energy Secretary Steven Chu has finally retracted a statement he made back in 2008 that American gas prices should be at the levels of Europe which are currently $7 to $9 a gallon. That kind of price would devastate our economy.”
Sensenbrenner said the Obama administration managed to kill the Keystone pipeline, managed to block oil development in Alaska and in offshore locations, has established a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and is strongly opposed to using the fracking technique which hurts the North Dakota oil projects.
In addition, the administration doesn’t like nuclear power and it has spent “oodles of money” on ill-fated energy sources such as the Solyndra project where investors got reimbursed for that bankruptcy before the government.
The congressman also pointed out the Obama administration shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility even though the federal government has already invested $15 billion, the cap and trade policy would have pushed energy prices through the roof, and coal usage would have been impossible.
He said, “We have an abundance of coal in this country. Here in Wisconsin we get two-thirds of our power from coal-fired power plants and yet the president wants to shut down the coal industries.”
Several alternatives to the Obama policies were touted by Sensenbren-ner.
He said, “We need to finish the Keystone pipeline project. Cana-dians have said if they can’t sell their oil to the United States through the pipeline, they will sell it to China by building a pipeline to the western Canadian ports.”
He also urged removing restrictions on offshore drilling, making it a federal policy to encourage the use of natural gas which is abundant in America and making restrictions on use of coal reasonable as ways to address the rising energy prices.
“People are saying, ‘Even if we authorize more drilling right now we won’t see the benefit for years.’ Well, my answer is that, had we started drilling three years ago, we’d already be seeing some of the benefits.”
The uncertain political stability in the Middle East is a factor, Sensenbrenner said, but only a small one. He said energy prices follow demand and supply, and worldwide demand is higher, especially with the economies in China and India increasing at a fast pace. In addition, the American economy is finally showing some signs of growth, and together those facts will have a far greater impact on oil prices.
On the upcoming elections, Sensenbrenner was cautious in his predictions. He said Obama’s ratings are below 50 percent in virtually all polls, and added, “I can’t remember when a president headed into an election with those low numbers and who won.” He predicted the outcome in Illinois and Michigan could have a huge impact on who the Republican nominee will be.
He also said Wisconsin’s Republican delegation is unified regarding an endorsement for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated in November by Sen. Herb Kohl. He said the delegation has decided it will not endorse a candidate until after the Republican convention and then all of them will rally behind the person selected.
On the gubernatorial recall election, Sensenbrenner said the race is likely to be close with virtually no one undecided as to who they will support. He said, “That means getting the vote out will be incredibly important in this recall election.”
He also said the recall election will help set the standard for the November elections.