Thune: Rising energy costs are priority on Capitol Hill

Thune: Rising energy costs are priority on Capitol Hill
The increasing cost of energy in the United States remains a priority of both chambers of Congress, according to U.S. Sen. John Thune � R-SD.

"Clearly high gas prices remain a top concern for me," he said in a conference call from his Washington, DC office Wednesday. "I was encouraged by action taken by the House of Representatives week before last in passing legislation that would provide incentives for additional refinery capacity and additional (fuel) supply.

"It is a simple fact that America does not produce enough domestic energy," the senator said, "and that leaves us very vulnerable."

Thune said the Senate Energy Committee will soon be introducing legislation that would allow the north slope of Alaska to be opened up for exploration.

"Hopefully, that will eventually lead to production of energy that will lessen the dependence that we have on foreign sources of energy," Thune said.

He is also encouraged by steps being made domestically � especially in South Dakota � to create renewable sources of energy.

"I was pleased last week, while Congress was on break, to attend groundbreaking ceremonies for a new ethanol plant in Mitchell," Thune said. "Ethanol production is obviously one way to increase domestic energy production, but we also have to make sure that we're developing additional supplies of more traditional energy sources."

Thune began his conversation with reporters by stating the U.S. has experienced a good week in its war against terror.

"The Iraqi elections and Saddam's trial are both highlights this week," he said. "The biggest milestone is the fact that the Iraqi people overwhelmingly chose democracy over violence."

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