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Shimkus: The Experience Needed To Helm Energy & Commerce

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

There is no more important time for steady, experienced leadership than when the nation sits at a crossroads and just about anything is possible.  We face just such a time right now—that when it comes to the ability to utilize free-market and limited-government philosophies to deal with the nation’s problems, we need someone who understands these principles and how they can be utilized to enact public policies that will create jobs and bring economic growth to the United States. When it comes to chairing the Energy and Commerce Committee in the US House of Representatives, I believe that Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) would be ideal.


Shimkus has served in Congress for ten terms. But rather than be “captured” by the system, has remained true to the principles that brought him to Congress in the election that followed the revolutionary wave of Republicans that took the House from the Democrats for the first time in more than four decades. More importantly, it has given him the experience required to carefully guide such an essential committee as Energy and Commerce.

Several weeks ago, the Institute for Liberty released a memorandum for the incoming administration, outlining the impact on America’s economy from federal regulations, and offering a series of recommendations on how that burden might be alleviated in the coming years. We calculate that the direct impact of federal regulations stands at approximately $2.25 trillion dollars, annually. For America’s small businesses (businesses with 20 employees or less), this translates into roughly $14,000 per employee, per year.  This is a central problem that the incoming Energy & Commerce Chairman will have to tackle—and Rep. Shimkus has a particular expertise in these issues.  As the current chairman of the Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy, Rep. Shimkus has worked doggedly to tackle these burdens with agencies like the EPA.

Moreover, Rep. Shimkus has long-understood the importance of reliable and affordable energy to these same American small businesses. While we can debate the role that the federal government might have in promoting alternative energy technologies, the reality is that small businesses have to live (and work) with what is available right now—what is most accessible and affordable and best for their particular business models.


The reliability and affordability of petroleum-based products in the United States right now is all due to the private sector—done in spite of what the outgoing administration was trying to do to carbon-based fuels (restricting drilling on public lands, for instance, or hamstringing mining operations with onerous regulatory burdens).  Rep. Shimkus has fought hard to try and ensure that these options remain reliable, and safe for the public as well. He is a vocal supporter of the Keystone Pipeline, a project that will ensure that oil can be transported from stable locales in a manner that is comparatively more safe than the alternatives (rail or truck).

Rep. Shimkus understands the importance that carbon-based sources of energy continue (and will continue) to play in our economy for the foreseeable future.  But more importantly, he understands the impact on jobs and our economy overall should anti-carbon forces have their sway (as well as understanding that should carbon emissions be a problem, it is human ingenuity, not government regulations, that will solve it).  Driving up the cost of energy would be disastrous for the American economy. It is, in part, what “tipped” the economy over in 2007 and 2008.

It is expected that in undoing the damage to a variety of economic sectors, the Energy and Commerce Committee will play a pivotal role.  Rep. Shimkus’ participation on the subcommittees that deal with energy and the environment, as well as those that deal with health care and telecommunications, give him the necessary experience in dealing with those issues from a legislative perspective.


It is my hope that congressional leadership will take this into perspective when they start choosing new committee chairman. Rep. John Shimkus will serve the American people well should he be chosen to chair the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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