Dear Mr. President,
In order to get our economy moving again, there are six key words I'd like to share with you: Stop the war on abundant energy! Ohio, like much of the country, has suffered the slings and arrows of a trying economy. College students fear graduation because there is so little opportunity awaiting them (I have two children attending Ohio colleges this fall). Our citizens wonder what tomorrow will bring-a rise in the debt ceiling, a plunge in the stock market, or the very real threat that their jobs will be the next ones to go. You can help change this equation.
Abundant (and inexpensive) energy is the key input or instigator to any economic turnaround. I'm sure the many economists advising you can demonstrate that every recession we've experienced in the past century has been preceded by a spike in energy prices. Likewise, economic recoveries are preceded by a drop in energy prices. We need to encourage energy exploration here at home, and we need to emphasize those abundant sources that lie beneath our feet, namely oil, natural gas, and coal.
All Americans share your desire to expand the energy choices for our consumers and businesses, but neither group wants to see prices spike to levels that preclude an economic turnaround. Thirty plus years ago, President Carter led the fight to switch us to alternative fuels, and we're still struggling to make the economics work, even with billions of dollars in subsidies for wind and solar energy. Ohioans don't care what kinds of jobs are available, but they insist that they pay well and actually materialize in our lifetimes.
When you allow the EPA or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hammer our energy producers by denying permits to mine or drill, you are dampening the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great. When government picks winners and losers between energy producers, that spirit is again dampened. China wants to purchase every bit of coal and oil and gas we can produce; why don't you?
We can make coal much cleaner, if you'll let us mine it. We can improve upon technologies for energy extraction, and we have-as you'll note from the oil and gas exploration going on in the eastern part of our state. We can produce good paying jobs, a spike in property values and income from those properties, and we can bring real prosperity to downtrodden communities.
We must have responsible regulation. In fact, these are some of the most regulated industries in the world. But current rule-making in Washington is overly complex, and that is being kind. Companies attempting to respond find that they can't hit a moving target, as the rules are being revised even as the companies file their responses. The Ohio Coal Association estimates that two rules (the Air Transport Rule and electric utility MACT-maximum achievable control technology-Rule) to be implemented in 2012 would eliminate more than 53,000 jobs in Ohio alone.
At the same time, activists are being trained and then paid to go door-to-door to frighten our citizens about coal mining's impact on groundwater and the air, as well as the danger of hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry. So I have to ask: Is this the America you want for our citizens? Is this the path to economic recovery and prosperity? Or are these merely more of the "political games" you denounce?
Ohio is a vital piece of the political puzzle, certainly, but it's also indispensable to growing our nation's economic pie. Leadership requires that we assess opportunities and risks in a rational manner and make the best decisions possible for the future of our state and country. We have the inexpensive energy our country needs right here in Ohio. If we can explore, we can produce. If we can produce, we can be the engine that gets our economy moving again. It's a matter of simple economics. Stop the war on abundant energy!
Rep. Thompson may be reached by calling (614) 644-8728, e-mailing District93@ohr.state.oh.us, or writing to State Rep. Andy Thompson, 77 South High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215.