Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Voinovich's View: "Ohioans Speak Out Over High Gas Prices"
I understand that Ohioans are hurting from sky-high costs of food and energy – especially from gasoline prices. And your personal experiences dealing with this crisis are important to me.
To reach out to Ohioans directly, I recently emailed the recipients of my monthly E-Newsletter and asked them to share with me stories about how their families have been affected by these costs. This email newsletter and platform for you all to weigh in with me directly gives you a real voice in Washington. To sign up for my E-Newsletter, visit my Web site at http://voinovich.senate.gov.
I was overwhelmed by the number of responses I received and was deeply touched with the stories people shared. I have already shared many of these stories with my colleagues in the Senate so that they can better understand how real people in Ohio are coping with these escalating costs. Ohio families cannot ignore rising gasoline prices – which are having an effect on everything from electricity and natural gas bills to food prices and the overall cost of living – and your stories can help convince Washington lawmakers to stop twiddling their thumbs.
I heard from parents, who have had to slash their family budgets; from seniors who are struggling to cover health care costs; and from small business owners who are really feeling the pinch and not sure how to make ends meet and keep their companies afloat.
An elderly woman from Defiance shared her struggle to pay for groceries, medications and health costs – and she’s especially worried about her home heating bills this winter. She said the high prices of gas have really affected the local Meals on Wheels program because volunteers are being forced to spend even more money to pay for gas.
Another woman, Beverly, said that she is thankful to be employed but, even with money coming in, they haven’t been able to visit and help their elderly parents as much as they would like because of gas prices. Beverly’s youngest son even had to transfer to a closer college and is struggling to pay the cost of tuition, commuting and food.
Shirley from Toledo was let go from her job in March. Mounting medical bills, prescriptions that cost $700 every three months and the increased cost of living forced her and her husband to file for bankruptcy as she looks for new employment.
Larry from Cincinnati said that he grew up in a poor family, and this great country allowed him to work hard, get an education and find a good-paying job that has afforded him and his wife a secure financial retirement. But, he added, he is sorry to say that he does not see the same security or opportunities for his children and grandchildren.
A small business owner from Bowling Green shared with me how his fuel charges for his carpet cleaning business have increased almost 50 percent in the last year and a half. It’s not too hard to figure out what that does to his take-home pay.
In addition to their experiences, Ohioans from across the state graciously shared words of support for my efforts in the Senate to address the energy crisis and craft a comprehensive solution, while at the same time expressing profound frustration. Believe me, I feel that same frustration. I’ve called for a Second Declaration of Independence from foreign sources of energy that threaten our energy and national security. While we cripple our own economy, we are sending billions of dollars overseas for oil to pad the coffers of many nations that do not have our best interest at heart, allowing them to control the supply and cost of our energy.
I’ve been frustrated for 10 years in the Senate as I’ve voted time and time again to take steps to avoid this crisis but to no avail. In fact, I have voted 10 times to allow for the safe production of the 10 billion barrels of oil known to be in ANWR. I have also fought to lift the moratorium on responsible exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf, which is what experts believe to be the quickest opportunity our nation has to increase or domestic oil production. And I have fought to tap the more than 800 billion barrels of oil locked up in our vast reserves of oil shale. We also must undertake an Apollo-like project focused on developing the clean, reliable and domestically abundant energy alternatives of the future.
Folks, we’ve got a big problem ahead of us, but I am confident that we can solve it by tapping into the resources we have at our fingertips. Congress has sat on its hands for far too long, but people across the country are raising their voices and demanding to be heard, and that is the only way we can bring about real changes in our policies and take our economy and national security back into our hands.
As I mentioned, one of the best ways to stay informed about what I’m doing to address the energy crisis is to read my E-Newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter at http://voinovich.senate.gov. My Web site and E-Newsletter are two of the best ways to know what I’m doing for each and every Ohioan.
Since my days as governor of Ohio, I have been guided by my own motto of “Together we can do it!” And so it is with the energy crisis – we must work together and we must start now to solve this crisis and bring our economy back on track.