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U.S. National Debt:

Idahoans On Energy: Running On Empty

By Senator Mike Crapo

"Please listen to the less vocal majority who are pleading for drastically decreasing the restrictions and regulations on drilling and refining our domestic oil."

"Who is going to pay back the tax payers when this [global warming] is proven to be a political sham?"

"Instead of the U.S. depending on foreign oil, why not make the rest of the world dependent on U.S. company patents for whatever ultimately replaces petroleum as the leading energy technology?"

"Our problems as usual are the result of allowing political expediency to make bad policy."

"It [lack of development of U.S. natural energy resources] has made life much tougher for those of us who aren't depending on the public to take care of us. Shame on all of you."

"Grandma and Grandpa do not come visit us anymore but maybe once every 6 months. They used to come once a month. Our fun outings into the country for enjoyment and to get away from the hectic busy pace of our lives, they simply do not happen anymore."

"I am so very frustrated with the US Congress. They are inept! They argue instead of taking action. Whenever a good bill comes up they tag it with riders full of wasteful spending."

These are a few of the sentiments I have received from Idahoans since I asked them in mid-June to email me their stories and comments on the high cost of gasoline and fuel. As of June 20, I had received over 1,000 emails about the difficulties Idahoans are facing as a result of high gasoline costs. What I've also heard was not unexpected-a vision for what we need to do to supply our own energy needs to the greatest extent possible. This vision includes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and offshore, and developing alternative and sustainable energy options including a strong emphasis on nuclear energy, geothermal, wind, solar, hydro and the promise of biofuels. Idahoans have also voiced support for increased conservation efforts and, facing the reality of current high fuel costs, are engaging in personal conservation efforts, which are responsible and important in the long run regardless of energy costs.

We live in the most prosperous and free nation in the world; with that comes a responsibility to be generous and charitable. However, this prosperity has come through hard work and dedication to the ideals of private property, capitalism and free markets. We have earned and must fiercely protect the freedom to enjoy the fruits of our labor. One way to do this is by developing domestic energy resources. We can regain control over energy costs in a distinctly American way-innovation and robust development that treads carefully when it comes to the environment, but refrains from onerous regulations or tax burdens on corporations that would, as we saw in the 1970s, translate into increased consumer costs.

When people make decisions about not seeing grandparents or grandchildren because of high cost of fuel, it's distressing. When an increasing number of parents curtail their own food consumption to make sure their children have enough to eat, it's downright ominous. While it's true that families make these types of decisions in the United States every day, if the occurrence of this is exacerbated by out-of-control energy costs, Congress has abdicated its responsibility to Americans. As one Idahoan put it last week, shame on us.

The time is long overdue to change course on this public policy issue. Thank you for writing to me, and continue to send me your stories at