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Jack Kingston talks energy

Congressman Jack Kingston thinks its time for a real debate to happen, and a vote to be taken, on offshore drilling in America.

That was the topic Kingston discussed at the Richmond Hill Rotary Club meeting Thursday afternoon.

He focused on "conservation, innovation and exploration" as the three components to help with energy issues.

"Number 25 is the magic number," he said. "In terms of world oil, that’s the percentage we use. We control three percent and import 60-65 percent. It also does depend on the value of the dollar – which is low right now – it’s not purely supply and demand…There’s a big economic strain. Four dollars a gallon is a huge economic crunch."

In terms of conservation, Kingston threw out ideas like eliminating Saturday mail – which would save the country $86 million worth of gas per day, not including postal labor.

"The debate on most of these issues has been decided – the only votes left are the votes by Congress," Kingston said.

Kingston noted the constituents are the ones who have been lobbying for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) of Alaska.

"The only people who care are Americans," he said. "If I’m Exxon, coming off my most profitable year ever, why would I ask for drilling in Alaska? I think that’s part of what’s wrong with Washington – we need to hear from the real world."

ANWR is the size of North Carolina, or about 20 million acres. The area the U.S. is looking at for offshore drilling, for size comparison, would be like putting a business card down onto a basketball court, Kingston said.

"We’re stuck on this emotional decision we made years ago," Kingston said. "The government owns the means of production – that’s one of our problems."

In innovation, the U.S. government has helped fund research on products such as sweet potatoes, which are cheaper ethanol options than corn; and new longer-lasting batteries for hybrid vehicles.

"We are America, we will innovate as we need to," he said. "I’m confident we’re going to get out of this, we’re not at the mercy of Saudi Arabia or the U.S. Congress."

But Kingston said these are all just parts of a possible solution.

"I wish there was one answer," Kingston said. "Common sense decisions are what we need to do."

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