Securing funds for district tougher in campaign season

Anyone who has been actively engaged in bringing jobs to his district through federal grants understands that there are inevitably obstacles and occasionally opponents. Your July 9 article “Big earmark headache for Rep. Kanjorski” outlines 15 years of my work to bring 300 jobs into Nanticoke, Pa.; the story includes some truth but also some falsehoods.

It is true that I led the effort to bring Travelers Insurance Co. into Nanticoke, and about 300 people worked there for nearly 10 years. A successor to the Medicare claims processing contract lost the contract with CMS, and the building is now vacant.

I have been working with local elected officials and the leadership of Luzerne County Community College to improve downtown Nanticoke, most recently to transform the Travelers building into a health sciences center for the college. I obtained $5.6 million in the 2005 transportation bill to provide adequate parking in conjunction with the center; these funds are still available and I have been working with the Department of Transportation to make sure those funds are well spent in Nanticoke.

Regarding the other earmarks that were changed in the technical corrections bill, these changes were made at the request of the local elected officials to meet their needs.

It is difficult enough to successfully complete complex projects under the best of circumstances; in the context of a heated campaign season it is even more difficult. It is well known in Nanticoke that the state representative aspires to my seat in Congress, and his observations are taken with an appropriate grain of salt. I hope that readers of The Hill will do the same.


Larger meaning of  ‘use it or lose it’

From Michael Shank, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University

That Congress is pressuring oil companies to “use it or lose it” on public lands is understandable enough given constituent discontent with rocketing petrol prices (article, “Energy bill out of gas,” July 8). But this narrow and nebulous agenda is near-sighted for two reasons.

First, oil companies are not simply sitting on sites yet failing to drill. Far from it. Simply ask the American oilers in the Gulf of Mexico who plum the waters miles deep in the most expensive search for new pools of petroleum. At $500,000 a day for rig rentals, the search is undoubtedly pricey. If untapped and unprotected public land held cheaper supplies, oil companies would be quick to quarry.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, the “use it or lose it” approach is not being applied to all energy sectors — renewable energy included. Refusing to “use it,” the U.S. is about to “lose it” in the solar industry.

Not only does Congress look ready to not renew the tax credit, due to expire at the end of this year, but the Bureau of Land Management has put a 22-month moratorium on all new solar energy plans on public lands. The result of such obvious obfuscating: the solar industry in China and the European Union will prosper while America’s plummets.

Losing it, financially speaking, will be an understatement if the U.S. government proceeds apace with both plans. Senate sentiment to suspend the renewable energy tax credit is completely nonsensical. If “three-quarters of the American people support the increased production of American-made energy,” as noted by a senior Republican aide, then wind and solar should receive a fair shake because this country has plenty.

Oil has been preferentially treated at roughly $250 billion a year in subsidies, says former CIA director and green convert Jim Woolsey, and to level the playing field for solar and wind is critical. Moreover, the BLM moratorium masquerades as environmental protectionism when such green governance has never been so stringently applied to coal, oil or gas. Why the wind sector now?

Before America completely undermines its energy future by dealing devastating blows to the renewable energy industry, and notably solar, perhaps a rethink is needed on the true meaning behind “use it or lose it.”

Arlington, Va.

Those guerilla Dems

From Ruth Lindemann

(Regarding article “McCain says he knew of Colombia rescue mission,” July 7.) It’s obvious that the Democrats (Obama in particular) were not notified. They would have warned the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Colorado Springs, Colo.