Senator John ThunePartisan political discourse is nothing new in America, but that does not mean that members of Congress can’t reach across the aisle to find solutions to critical challenges that face our nation. In particular, I believe that there is room for such cooperation in addressing record high energy costs, even in an election year.
High gas prices affect every single person in this country. Many South Dakotans drive long distances and are feeling the pinch at the pump. Similarly, the agriculture sector is being hit due to its reliance on diesel fuel and fertilizer, both of which require petroleum. In addition, virtually all of the products we buy must be transported at least some distance, meaning that the increased fuel costs are being directly passed along to consumers. There is no better sign of what high fuel prices can do to our economy than the aviation sector, which has witnessed numerous bankruptcies and job cuts due directly to record fuel costs.
Even in a political environment that is highly charged by a national election, I am working to build bipartisan consensus on legislation that would reduce energy costs.
I am pleased to say that I have been working with a group of Democrat and Republican Senators, known informally as the Gang of Ten. We are currently drafting a comprehensive energy policy that will expand domestic sources of oil and natural gas while investing in technologies to reduce consumption and advance renewable energy.
Energy costs are rising rapidly and this issue demands a bipartisan effort. It is my hope that House and Senate leaders will take notice of this bipartisan effort so that we can move forward quickly.
Due to decades of inaction in Washington, our nation currently relies on foreign sources of energy for over 60 percent of our nation’s petroleum needs. Congress must do more to put consumers first when it comes to energy. It is clear that we are in an energy crisis and that there is no part of our economy that is immune from the effects of soaring fuel costs. Throughout history, our nation has met such crises head-on, and it is time for us to put politics aside and do the job voters sent us here to do.
While I recognize that there are no quick fixes to help consumers who are paying high fuel prices, additional delays in tackling these issues head-on will only prolong, and possibly worsen our nation’s dangerous dependence on foreign energy.