Today, Congressman Travis Childers (D-MS) announced his six-point energy plan to address skyrocketing fuel costs. The Congressman’s plan provides both short term-relief to help North Mississippians cope with rising gas prices and long-term solutions to the nation’s overall energy crisis.

In order to move a large portion of his energy plan into law, Congressman Childers has signed on as a co-sponsor to recently introduced legislation that aims to increase U.S. energy independence. The American-Made Energy Act of 2008 (H.R. 5437) was introduced last week and has already won considerable bipartisan support.

“Like all Americans, North Mississippians are struggling to afford ever-increasing prices at the pump. The rising cost of gasoline is driving up the price of groceries and other necessities in what are already tough economic times,” said Congressman Childers. “Right now, working people need immediate relief from increasing gas prices and a long-term energy strategy to get this country back on track. I am introducing a series of legislative measures to address these needs, and I’m proud to work with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to tackle these important issues.”

Along with co-sponsorship of H.R. 5437, Congressman Childers is drafting legislation to enact other initiatives outlined in his plan, including tax credits for diesel fuel, as well as for individuals who carpool and families and businesses that weather-proof their homes and offices.

Congressman Childers’ six-point energy plan includes:

· A strategy to provide immediate relief for Americans struggling from high gas prices involving the following steps:

1. Stop Speculation and Price Gouging

2. Provide Diesel Tax Credits

· The following long-term solutions to the country’s energy crisis:

3. Expand Our Energy Supply

4. Promote Conservation

5. Invest in Alternative Energy Sources

6. Extend Hybrid Vehicle Tax Credits

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THE CHILDERS SIX-POINT PLAN

Immediate Relief

While the overall goal of any energy plan should be to provide long-term solutions for the nation’s energy crisis, Americans need relief right now. Congressman Childers’ plan provides immediate relief for North Mississippians facing out-of-control gas prices by ending speculation and price gouging, and providing diesel tax credits for farmers and truckers to offset costs passed on to consumers.

1. Stop Speculation and Price Gouging

Crack Down on OPEC

Congressman Childers’ first vote in the House of Representatives was to crack down on oil producers in the Middle East for price gouging Americans at the pump. The Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act of 2008 (H.R. 6074), which passed in the House with overwhelming support, authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice to sue the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for colluding to limit the production and supply of oil and manipulating prices.

Eliminate Excessive Speculation and Price Distortion

There is reason to believe that speculation is artificially inflating the price of crude oil and other energy commodities. That is why Congressman Childers supported the bipartisan Energy Markets Emergency Act (H.R. 6377), which directs the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), an independent agency of the U.S. government, to use its authority to eliminate excessive oil speculation, price distortion, and sudden or unwarranted changes in prices.

The Congressman also voted to prevent fuel price gouging in areas experiencing an “energy emergency” and prohibit the reporting of false or misleading information about fuel wholesale prices to any federal agency. The Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act (H.R. 6346) would give states the legal tools they need to prevent excessive gas prices by setting both civil and criminal penalties for price gouging in areas enduring energy emergencies, and permit states to bring lawsuits against retailers for such behavior.

2. Provide Diesel Tax Credits

The price of diesel fuel is surpassing the already skyrocketing price of non-diesel fuels, and is driving up the cost of everything else. Congressman Childers proposes a tax credit for farmers and truckers to offset costs, so that increased diesel prices are not passed on to consumers at the store.

Long-Term Solutions

Providing long-term solutions to skyrocketing fuel costs means decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil by maintaining a sufficient energy supply at home. This can be achieved through efforts to expand the U.S. energy supply, conserve domestic energy sources that already exist, invest in alternative fuels, and extend hybrid vehicle tax credits.

3. Expand Our Energy Supply

Encourage New Oil Drilling

Congress needs to be receptive to any reasonable proposal, from Republicans or Democrats, that might offer relief to the American public from high fuel prices. Congressman Childers strongly supports new oil drilling to reduce the cost of fuel and gasoline. The Congressman voted against “use it or lose it” legislation that would force the oil industry to relinquish any land it does not use for oil or natural gas exploration within a certain time frame.

Congressman Childers is open to drilling in the outer continental shelf (the Eastern Gulf of Mexico) and the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR).

Build More Oil Refineries

Drilling alone will not solve the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. The United States has not built an oil refinery since 1976. While Congressman Childers does support new procedures to enhance domestic drilling capacities across the United States, he believes the country should focus the majority of its resources on encouraging the oil industry to build more refineries.

4. Promote Conservation

Offer a Carpool Tax Credit

To encourage fuel conservation, Congressman Childers recommends expanding tax credits for individuals who carpool to and from work and other destinations.

Provide a Tax Credit for Weather-Proofed Homes and Offices

Weather-proofing homes has proven to be an effective way to bring down individual energy consumption. The Congressman’s plan calls for extending tax credits for families and businesses that reduce energy used for air conditioning and heating by making their homes and offices more energy efficient.

5. Invest in Alternative Energy Sources

Congressman Childers is committed to supporting research initiatives being undertaken at the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University that will use the state’s agriculturally diverse resources to encourage domestic energy production at a state and local level. The Congressman has already spoken with leaders from both universities to discuss various projects at their institutions of higher education, and is working hard to secure federal funding for these projects.

The Congressman backs legislation to promote the use and production of renewable energy. He voted for the House-approved Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act (H.R. 6049), which provides incentives for renewable energy production and conservation, including tax credits for the manufacture of plug-in electric vehicles and bonds to finance local government conservation and greenhouse gas reduction projects.

6. Extend Hybrid Vehicle Tax Credits

Congressman Childers proposes extending tax credits currently available under the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit to promote the purchase of new hybrid vehicles. Toyota recently unveiled that it would produce Prius hybrid vehicles at its Blue Springs, Miss. plant rather than Highlander SUVs, as originally announced. The production of fuel efficient vehicles with better viability in a market heavily influenced by high gas prices means increased energy conservation, more jobs, and greater job security in North Mississippi. Legislation promoting the purchase of hybrid vehicles like the Prius will increase this impact.

THE AMERICAN-MADE ENERGY ACT OF 2008

Last week, Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR) introduced the American-Made Energy Act of 2008 (H.R. 5437), legislation that would take significant steps towards moving Congressman Childers’ energy plan into law. The measure would promote U.S. energy independence by increasing domestic energy production, encouraging the development of homegrown biofuels, and investing in alternative and renewable energy sources. Congressman Childers has signed on as a co-sponsor to this bipartisan legislation. Currently, the bill has five Democratic members of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition as co-sponsors, along with five Republican members of Congress.

H.R. 5437 addresses three points of the Congressman’s six-point energy plan, including the expansion of the United States’ domestic oil supply, energy conservation, and investment in alternative fuel sources.

The bill calls for the following measures:

Increase Domestic Energy Production

Opens up the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to exploration utilizing 21st century environmentally friendly technology. These funds will be deposited into a newly created American-made energy trust fund in which the federal share of lease and royalty revenue will be used to pay for the provisions in the bill.

Promotes Homegrown Biofuels

Extends and expands tax credits for the development of biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, and the installation and use of solar and fuel cell technologies for business and residential use. It also provides grants to build cellulosic biomass ethanol plants and authorizes cellulosic facilities for bonus depreciation.

Extends the loan guarantee program for biorefineries, increases grant funding for biofuel research and development projects, establishes a forest bioenergy research program, and creates an advanced biofuel credit program to acknowledge those who are blending more than the required amount of biofuels.

Encourages Alternative & Renewable Fuel Production

Includes a comprehensive package to promote coal to liquid fuel production, including expanded tax credits for projects that demonstrate significant carbon capture and sequestration capabilities that will combat global warming.

Supports renewable electricity by extending tax credits for the production of electricity from renewable resources and authorizes new clean renewable energy bonds for public power providers and electric cooperatives. It also expands the tax credit for electricity produced from agriculture waste.

Supports nuclear energy by creating an investment tax credit to build new nuclear facilities and states that by the year 2050, 40 percent of our entire nation’s electricity shall be produced from nuclear sources.

Helps Working Families & Invests in Our Economy

Promotes the development and use of alternative fuel vehicles by creating a consumer tax credit to buy new plug-in electric and flex-fuel vehicles and expands the use of biodiesel by federal and state government vehicle fleets.

Supports energy efficiency by extending and modifying the new energy efficient home credit and the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction.

INTRODUCTION OF ADDITIONAL LEGISLATION

Congressman Childers is in the process of drafting legislation to encourage Americans to purchase new hybrid vehicles. The initiative will expand the tax credits currently available under the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit, and will amplify the positive effect of hybrid vehicle production at Toyota’s Blue Springs plant on conservation, employment opportunities, and job security.

The Congressman is also drawing up measures to give or enhance tax credits to provide relief for high gas prices and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. One initiative will offer diesel fuel tax credits for farmers and truckers to offset inordinate fuel costs that are passed on to consumers. Two additional bills will encourage energy conservation by supplying tax credits for individuals who carpool and families and businesses that weather-proof their homes and offices.

Providing immediate relief for Americans at the pump and creating long-term solutions to America’s energy crisis will take continued measures and combined efforts throughout the foreseeable future. Congressman Childers will work with fellow members of Congress from both the Democratic and Republican Parties to make progress in solving energy issues, and will consider all reasonable proposals to alleviate the burden of high gas prices and improve the country’s current energy conditions.