The push for a long-term comprehensive energy plan has largely fallen by the wayside over the past months as the deteriorating economy has taken center stage and oil prices have fallen from the heights they reached last summer.  Formulating a strategy for economic recovery has rightly dominated the agenda on Capitol Hill, but I can’t help but regret that the congressional leadership let an opportunity to enact meaningful change slip through its fingers by failing to act last summer when Americans were demanding relief from skyrocketing energy costs.

A “Virtual March on Washington, D.C., for Energy Independence” from April 1-3 aims to propel energy back into the national spotlight, and I welcome the opportunity to rekindle that discussion on one of the most pressing issues of our time.  The virtual march is a coordinated nationwide effort to encourage constituents to use their phones, computers and other technology to flood Washington with calls for energy independence.

Even in the midst of an economic crisis, energy should rank among our top priorities.  Implementing a comprehensive energy plan, in which all common sense energy options are fair game for inclusion, will play a central role in putting America back on the path to prosperity. Investing in renewable and nuclear energy would spark job growth, and achieving energy independence by safely harnessing the abundance of traditional resources to which we are currently blocking our citizens access would shore up national security by making our reliance on foreign energy a thing of the past.

To reap those benefits, we need to consider every available option. That means investing in the most innovative renewable energy technologies as well as expanding exploration for American-controlled energy sources. We must combine those efforts with a renewed focus on conservation to make better use of the resources we currently have at our disposal.

I’m prepared to engage in a meaningful energy debate in which all options are put on the table and examined. I hope my colleagues in Congress can say the same.