Summer has just begun, yet families and small businesses in Maine are worrying about next winter and winters to follow. Before the last remnants of snow had melted, many had already exhausted their savings or maxed out their credit card paying for last winter's heating oil deliveries. Even if next winter is less brutal, forecasters predict oil prices will rise even further. Likewise, gasoline - double last year's already high price - is taking a huge, unexpected bite out of everyone's budgets.
|Representative Tom Allen represents Maine's 1st District in the United States Congress.|
The destructive impact of soaring energy costs is spreading throughout the Maine and U.S. economies.
I know that the people of Maine are ready for bold action, for everywhere I go they tell me that they are making desperate choices between food and fuel, medical care and gasoline. I intend to take their stories and yours to Washington to use in our fight for America's families and small businesses. We need both immediate relief and new long-term national priorities that will ensure energy independence. Please join this effort by telling me how the energy crisis is affecting your life. You can send your stories to me through my website, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or to my District office at 57 Exchange Street, Suite 302, Portland, ME 04101.
Armed with these authentic, powerful messages, I will continue my battle with Big Oil and the other special interests that have blocked reform. I will use these stories to demand action now by Congress and the Administration to address this national emergency and to halt Big Oil's stranglehold over energy policies in this country.
Maine is not alone in facing the daunting combination of long, cold winters and extensive distances between towns that force residents to burn a lot of gasoline to get to work or stores. Recently, Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and I convened a meeting of the Northeast-Midwest Coalition, Members of Congress who come from the Northern tier of our country, regions that understand that if heating fuel and gasoline prices do not settle down, the back of our economies will be broken. Businesses will choose warmer climates in which to operate, or places where public transportation is more readily available. Individuals will be forced to move, too, and those who cannot relocate will have their budgets stretched beyond the breaking point. Our congressional group began formulating solutions that make sense. After talking to our constituents further, we will move forward together.
I am working on a comprehensive plan that will address all aspects of the energy crisis. To build support for a bold plan, however, Americans must agree about what the problem is. This is where your stories come in. With your help, we will build a case for a new direction.
If you are struggling to find the money to insulate your old home or to put in a more efficient boiler, tell me. If you are a small business owner who may be forced to drop health insurance coverage for your employees so you can pay for your delivery trucks' diesel fuel, let me know. If you have looked into locking in your heating oil prices for next year, but don't have a clue whether it would be wise to do so, share that story. Have you given up life's little luxuries, like a trip to a restaurant or movie, because there's nothing left over at the end of the month? Are you seeing the cost increases spill over to other consumer goods, so that your grocery bills have either exploded or your children are eating less well? If we know how this energy crisis is affecting Americans, we will be in a stronger position to galvanize support for effective changes.
There are very few Mainers who have not been struggling because of these changed circumstances. Together, we can beat this problem and build a better, more sustainable energy future.