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Mainers have been hurt by fluctuating fuel prices at the pump and many have difficulty affording the fuel they need to heat their homes. The high price of energy has made it difficult for Mainers to balance family budgets and for small businesses to stay afloat.
Mike has advocated for targeted relief to help Mainers deal with the increased price of fuel, and has continued to fight for domestic production and renewable fuels that will help our nation become more energy independent in the future while at the same time developing jobs here at home.
ADDRESSING HIGH FUEL PRICES
For many Mainers, the high cost of fuel is overwhelming. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps by providing direct fuel assistance and supporting the weatherization of homes for lower-income Mainers, including families, the disabled and elderly living on fixed incomes. Mike has consistently called for substantial increases in funding for LIHEAP and worked with his colleagues to successfully increase the program’s funding to the fully authorized level of $5.1 billion.
In 2011, we are experiencing gas price spikes similar to those we endured in 2008. Like before, Mike supports an “everything on the table” approach. He supports increasing domestic production, but in a way that gives states like Maine a say in what type of drilling takes place off its shores. He also wants to make sure that whatever Congress passes to speed up production contains strong safeguards to prevent disasters like BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill. But increased production should not be considered a quick fix, since it will take years to come online and make a difference in the price at the pump.
In order to directly address the prices Mainers pay at the pump, Mike has advocated for a crackdown on speculation and price manipulation in the oil futures markets. This has a direct impact on the prices we all pay at the pump and is a step we can’t afford not to take. Mike also supports steps to root out any cases of fraud or price gouging in the oil markets that affect gas prices. In addition, Mike sent a letter to President Obama in February of 2011 requesting that he consider utilizing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to alleviate rapid energy price escalations. The Obama Administration responded to that request on June 23, 2011 when the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in conjunction with its partners in the International Energy Agency, announced that it would release a total of 60 million barrels of oil onto the world market over the next 30 days to offset the disruption in the oil supply caused by unrest in the Middle East. According to DOE, as part of this effort, the U.S. will release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). The DOE says that the SPR is currently at a historically high level with 727 million barrels.
Mike also supports tax credits for families and assistance to our small businesses to help them pay for energy. He has introduced legislation that would make low-interest loans available to small businesses that have suffered or will likely suffer substantial economic injury as a result of the price of heating fuel. Additionally, Mike has cosponsored legislation that would provide a tax credit to individuals for home heating.
PROMOTING DOMESTIC PRODUCTION AND CLEAN ENERGY
In order to protect our economy and national security we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic production and investing in renewable energy. Mike supports the increased use of energy resources and fuels produced in the United States.
Investments in clean energy technologies will create jobs in Maine that cannot be shipped overseas. Mike has fought hard to ensure that these investments are made in the State of Maine, putting to work the considerable clean energy resources of the Second Congressional District. Already, federal investments Mike has advocated for have helped to spur the generation of tidal power off Maine’s shores, the development of a massive deepwater offshore wind project, and an impressive expansion of biomass use.
Mike has cosponsored a number of bills to invest in renewable sources of energy, many of which are being produced in Maine today. He has voted for the extension of the production tax credit for renewable fuels like wind, tidal, and cellulosic ethanol. He also supported legislation that would provide tax credit to help homeowners install small wind systems and geothermal heat pump systems in their homes.
To protect Maine families during times of record fuel prices, Mike has voted to encourage oil production in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, support the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to the continental United States, and require oil companies to drill for oil in areas they already hold leases. He also supported legislation which would also have opened portions of the outer continental shelf to drilling. At the end of 2008, the legislative moratorium on drilling was lifted.
SAVING MONEY THROUGH EFFICIENCY
One of America's great untapped energy resources is efficiency. Individual homeowners and businesses can take steps now to reduce their energy usage, but the federal government can help homeowners and businesses invest in technologies that reduce their energy usage.
In the 110th Congress, Mike voted for H.R. 6, Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which became law and included a number of provisions requiring increases in the energy efficiency of appliances, buildings, and vehicles. He also cosponsored a bill that would provide our schools with grants to make energy efficiency improvements. This type of support would allow them to decrease their energy costs and reduce their fuel usage.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included $254,215,848 in funding for clean energy and energy efficiency investments in the State of Maine. A full list of programs can be viewed by going HERE and clicking on “DOE Recovery Act Project Breakdown by State.”