Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

For several weeks, I have seen the ads by T. Boone Pickens concerning the need for energy policy reform in the nation. I applaud his efforts and hope that more people will encourage our legislators to engage in problem-solving discussions about energy. Although Pickens is a member of the richest strata of American society, his work will positively affect the poor – if we, as a culture, get it right.

The poor in America need advocates concerning energy policies. Thankfully people like Rob Bishop of Utah have acknowledged that there is a war on the poor. As a result, he has offered legislation that he hopes will help solve the problems. One of his legislative answers is the Americans for American Energy Act of 2008, H.R. 6384.

Last week I was pleasantly surprised that a whole mob of Republican leadership of the House of Representatives made a stand for affordable, American energy. Using circus-like press conferences, outspoken congressmen legitimately called attention to the irony that House Democrats took their vacations despite the fact that many of their constituents are not able to afford vacations this summer because of energy costs.

On Wednesday, House Minority Leader John Boehner said, “Instead of allowing a vote on the American Energy Act, which would promote energy production, conservation and innovation to bring down fuel costs, they instead chose to simply skip town - and leave Americans on their own to pay the price.” More specifcally, Republicans were pushing for legislation that will lift a ban on offshore oil drilling. In addition, they were focusing on the development oil shale fields in the West.

At first take, I was surprised that the Republicans were even interested in the issue in such a deeply engaged way. As the co-chair of the “Stop The War on The Poor” Campaign, I am committed to seeing the interests of the poor trumpeted. As someone who receives no money from big oil compaines and a non-scientist, I decided to read the summary of several bills to ascertain whether the legislation proposed seemed to be reasonable. I wanted to know for myself whether the needs of the American public were being ignored in favor of the interests of the rich and powerful.

The media and many pundits have characterized the Republican efforts as partisan, pro-big oil companies, and short sighted.  As I have researched the kind of bills being proposed in the Congress, I was impressed at the breadth of several pieces of legislation.

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.