By Johnny Jackson
U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) praised the growing bipartisan support for would-be legislation to decrease the United State's dependence on foreign oil, while increasing renewable fuel alternatives.
"That's called leadership," said Scott, Wednesday. "I'm very supportive of that."
He is the latest of several U.S. lawmakers speaking out in support of the comprehensive New Energy Reform Act of 2008, also known as the New ERA.
On Tuesday, six U.S. Senators voiced their support of the New ERA, which is an energy proposal to reduce gas prices, lessen the country's dependence on foreign oil, and strengthen the nation's economy.
U.S. Sens. John Warner (R-Va.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), John Sununu (R-N.H.), and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), have joined the bipartisan coalition led by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), known informally as the "Gang of 10."
"During the August recess, I have been from one end of Georgia to the other and the No.1 issue I hear about continues to be the high cost of fuel," Chambliss said. "We have a real opportunity to get something done by working together, and I am so pleased to announce that our bipartisan group has added more senators to it, and I feel confident we will continue to see it grow, once we resume session after Labor Day.
"The American people are looking for action on the energy crisis," he added. "They are not looking for a political issue. They simply want to be able to make ends meet without having to make difficult budget decisions."
The New ERA includes provisions to help increase domestic production and fuel conservation. The proposal also includes consumer tax credits and incentives on alternative fuel vehicles, and calls for a concerted transition in the nation's motor vehicle fleets to fuels other than gasoline and diesel.
New ERA supporter, Sen. Warner, pioneered offshore drilling legislation in the Senate and has called on the executive and legislative branches of government to reduce fuel consumption by 3 percent for one year. A version of the New ERA may undergo drafting in the United States House of Representatives as soon as next week, according to Rep. Scott.
"It's going to take both Democrats and Republicans working together to find a solution," said Scott, a member of the House Agriculture Committee's Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research Subcommittee. "We need to make sure that we're doing everything - a combination of things to get ourselves off our dependence on foreign oil."
Scott said fuel independence will be necessary in order for the U.S. to maintain a less volatile and cheaper fuel supply, access to which is currently reliant upon the more hostile regions of the world.
"We need to do more," he said. "We need to drill where we can drill. But the most important thing to me is that we've got to quicken the pace of getting alternative, renewable fuels ... The way to bring the price of oil down is to cut your demand. We've got to become what I call American-dependent. It goes to the heart of our own national security."
He said he believed that alternative energy and renewable fuel sources will be a part of the next wave of progress for the United States.
"No where are we doing a greater job than right here in my own district," Scott said. "In Ellenwood, we've got one of the foremost examples of what we've got to do for the future - the Bulldog Biodiesel Company in Ellenwood is making 18 million gallons of Biodiesel from chicken fat right here in Georgia.
"Oil is not the future," he added. "We have to bring down the gas prices and [get] off our dependency on oil, foreign oil especially. The future rests with solar and wind and all of these renewable subsidies, and all of these are incorporated in the Gang of 10 approach. I think we're moving in the right direction."
Chambliss said the coalition of Senators believes its bipartisan energy plan will generate a groundswell of support among U.S. citizens and will lead to the development of comprehensive legislation to tackle the nation's energy crisis.