Blunt warns about winter, high heating prices

John Hacker

Even as Missourians and Americans adjust to rising gasoline prices, U.S. Congressman Roy Blunt was in Joplin last week warning that it could get worse when Americans turn on their furnaces this winter.

Blunt was in Webb City last week to promote what he called his “all-of-the-above” energy plan, which calls for more efficient vehicles, development of alternative energy sources and drilling for oil and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the East and West Coasts.

Blunt spoke at a convenience store that displayed a gas price of $3.80 a gallon. Missouri has some of the lowest gas prices in the country, and Southwest Missouri has some of the lowest gas prices in Missouri, but residents say it’s still painful to fill up.

Don Eggley of Mount Vernon was filling up at the convenience store when Blunt spoke, and got the chance to speak with him one-on-one.

“I think your plan sounds good; I’m for drilling,” Eggley told Blunt. “We need to do something, we should have done it 10 or 15 years ago so we wouldn’t be in the crisis we’re in now.”

“Since I’ve been in Congress almost that long, in my defense, I would say we’ve sent these things consistently to the Senate, but we were doing it when 30 percent of the people thought it was a good idea instead of 70 percent, so it was a lot easier for 40 of them to say no,” Blunt said. “If we could just now send the same things to the Senate we’ve been sending them the last 10 years, I think it would be really hard to say no today.”

Eggley said he and his wife spend “probably $400 or $500 a month on gasoline.

"We do a lot of driving with our work, it’s necessary, we have to do it. When it comes to discretionary driving, we don’t do it, we just stay home we’re not doing as much. We were going to buy a camper, we put that on hold, we decided not to do that. We’ve put off purchases and things like that so we have changed our lifestyle quite a bit.”

Blunt said things would get worse as the weather got cold as residents in this area started using natural gas and residents in the Northeast start using home heating oil.

The Missouri Public Service Commission recently came out with a statement warning Missourians to start weatherizing their house now to prepare for high home heating bills.

PSC Chairman Jeff Davis said the wholesale price of natural gas was staying around $13 per million BTU, a price he said he’s never seen sustained for as long as it has this year.

Blunt said the gasoline crisis would turn into an energy crisis come wintertime.

“So we need to have an absolute commitment to move forward absolutely as quickly as we can both in terms of using our own resources better, American resources more wisely and going after American resources that are available, but also in looking for ways to encourage conservation, encourage new ways to power the economy of the future that aren’t totally dependent on fossil fuels, things like solar and wind,” Blunt said.

“One way you can do that is to immediately extend the research tax credits that as of the first of this year were eliminated. Now everyone believes that eventually this Congress will get to extending it, but a lot of people are waiting, from (Texas oil magnate) Boone Pickens on down to invest that money in wind or solar or other alternatives until they know that the tax backing is going to be there to encourage that kind of risk-taking to find ways to solve these problems in our economy.”

Carthage Press