When National Pandering Erodes Our Future!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
January 21, 2008

For the better part of the ten years I have served as County Commissioner, I have made energy my number one issue because without it, we are "dead in the water" from both an economic and security standpoint. One of the individuals that have consistently spoken with clarity and courage on this issue is nationally syndicated columnist, Tom Friedman. As a great nation we should be ahead of the power curve and not suffering by being behind it.

But to do that we need straight talk. That's why I recently circulated through my e-mail list (to be included, see below), Tom Friedman's recent article entitled "Dumb as We Wanna Be". In it he takes up the very interesting idea of the gas tax suspension by Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer's travel season. Of my many past e-mails sent I never got such a positive response!

The first problem with the suspension of the gas tax is that it feeds the delusion that we can get something for nothing. Nothing can be more critical to us that the safety of our transportation infrastructure, starting with bridges. If we fail to responsibly fund highway and bridge safety nationally and statewide we will pay in lives as well as money. The recent disaster involving a Minnesota bridge comes to mind.

Friedman says, "If you are going to use tax policy to shape energy strategy then you want to raise taxes on the things you want to discourage — gasoline consumption and gas-guzzling cars — and you want to lower taxes on the things you want to encourage — new, renewable energy technologies. We are doing just the opposite."

He goes on to say, "Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies."

"In 1997, said Resch (Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association), America was the leader in solar energy technology, with 40 percent of global solar production. "Last year, we were less than 8 percent, and even most of that was manufacturing for overseas markets."

Friedman finally says, "The McCain-Clinton proposal is a reminder to me that the biggest energy crisis we have in our country today is the energy to be serious — the energy to do big things in a sustained, focused and intelligent way."

May we please have a moment of candor and sacrifice, for the good of the country?

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