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|Alexander discusses energy in pre-election appearance at Coke plant|
Congressional leaders who support more domestic oil drilling will continue to advocate it as the nation looks to solve its energy crisis, according to U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander.
Alexander, who faces re-election in the Sept. 6 Republican primary, on toured Coca-Cola Enterprises' facilities in Monroe Monday and spoke briefly about the economy, fuel and energy problems.
During the tour, Coca-Cola Enterprises' Keith Biedenharn urged Congress to address the nation's energy crisis.
Biedenharn, Coca-Cola Enterprises' sales center manager, said the Coke bottler is probably one of the largest users of fuel in the country.
"We go through 225,000 gallons of gas a year, and we're probably the second or third largest consumer of fuel next to some of the big giants like UPS," Biedenharn said. "So it's very important that we address the fuel issue. Obviously, we'd love to see the price of diesel go down, but we are conserving energy and eventually we'll go to fuel-efficient trucks."
Alexander said he will continue to push for more offshore drilling in areas that have been off limits to exploration because of "laws that Congress has passed."
"We're going to continue fighting for that," said Alexander, referring to efforts to allow exploration in regions around the country and beyond, which currently cannot be exposed to activities to produce oil and gas.
"We have some resources in Louisiana that we can capitalize on to ease our burden on energy," Alexander explained. "We still have a large reserve of coal and wind power. We're told in north Louisiana we don't have the wind to generate enough energy to sustain windmills, but along the Gulf coast, we can generate enough electricity to power the city of New Orleans alone.
"We have not been in a bind as a nation like we have been the last month or two. We're beginning to feel the effect of high gasoline and high diesel prices on businesses across this nation. It's a profound negative impact that we've got to correct as quickly as we can."
Alexander said he may return to Washington next week with other congressional Republicans to encourage the Democratic leadership to lift the congressional moratorium on drilling on the outer continental shelf.
Alexander said many Republicans believe Democratic leaders will not allow a vote on this issue. There are some who think President Bush will call Congress back into session to address this matter.
"We could be in a stalemate until the new administration takes over," Alexander said.
"There are those who say this won't help us because we don't have the infrastructure to move petroleum from a new drill site in the Gulf region," Alexander continued. "I find that to be almost comical. We have things called barges. If we have locations that can produce petroleum now, we can get it to places with refining capabilities rather quickly.