It is a great honor to represent the scenic stretch of Tennessee from Clarksville to Nashville, to Memphis. Anchored by Tennessee’s great metropolitan centers, the heart of my district is the rural engine of Tennessee’s economy and home to the men and women who work the land every day. These are the true environmentalists and conservationists, those for whom clean air and clean water isn’t an abstract notion, but the vital force that keeps the corn, cotton and soybeans growing. They are among the hardest hit by escalating energy prices.
Contrast them with the other “environmentalists”. These are the latte’ sipping earth-first-istas who believe corn is more appropriately poured into a gas tank than into corn meal muffins. Their environmental experience is a drive through the Napa Valley. “Pay more, drive less” is an option for them because they don’t have to depend on hauling goods to market to make their living. After all those spinning classes, they think nothing of a brisk bike ride to the office.
My constituents and I live a very different lifestyle. While the trial lawyers and green peacers sip proseca and chat politely about the fate of the ridge crested woodchuck; my constituents pile their kids into the mini-van and head to church, summer camp, swimming lessons, and baseball practice. They don’t want the liberal elites to make it more expensive to dream big dreams and turn those dreams into reality.
For my constituents, pay more and drive less isn’t an option. Perhaps the family budget in rural Tennessee can’t absorb the spike in gas prices as easily as the family budget in San Francisco. There isn’t a commuter train that connects Waynesboro to Clifton, nor is there a subway system to whisk passengers from one end of Memphis to the other.
What my constituents need is innovation for short term, mid-range, and long term American energy solutions. They need credit for energy efficiency and conservation where they can achieve it; a clear path to American self sufficiency in the long run; and a menu of reasonable, workable energy solutions as soon as possible.
The answer they get from Washington however is “no”. No to the new nuclear power needed to charge electric vehicles; no to the new clean coal technologies that enable coal to liquid fuels that that would help America become energy independent and burn cleaner than petroleum; and no to tapping the untouched oil resources right here in the United States.
They hear plenty about wind, solar, and biomass, but until they can drive their crops to market in a solar powered semi or start their tractors with bio-fuel that functions in extreme temperatures, they need more immediate solutions.
Maybe it is time for those that are a roadblock to action on the energy issue to let us know what they are for. Are they for higher prices? Are they for driving less and paying more? Do they want to see us on bicycles and walking the five miles to the office? What we do know is that they stand as the lone roadblock to reasonable American energy solutions.