Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Letter from Senator Coburn... check out the highlighed part..... Personally as a practicing physician he could vote to protect all people, not just the ones who happen to drop by his office!

May 5, 2009

Mrs. Margee Aycock
1135 N. Denver
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74106-4647

Dear Mrs. Aycock,

Thank you for your email regarding clean energy and smoking in public places. It is good to hear from you.

Like you, I believe we must move towards other forms of American energy such as solar and wind energy as you suggested. I am supportive of efforts to further develop all available renewable resources. However, we must allow the markets to work, so that consumers can pick the source that best matches their needs. I believe we boost energy development and new technological development the most when we reduce taxes for all Americans and eliminate unnecessary regulations that stand in the way of progress. I will continue my efforts towards this end.

Oklahoma is fast becoming a leader in alternative sources of energy. According to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, our state ranks ninth nationally in total existing wind energy generation and we are about to leapfrog near the front of that ranking. Wind energy is Oklahoma's primary alternative energy source and currently operates 689 wind turbines. Hydro power and the development of agrifuels also hold great potential. There is no reason why we should not be leading the nation in alternative energy production. I am encouraged to hear of developments in solar technology, and am hopeful it will one day become a cost-efficient alternative to traditional energy sources.

I am particularly encouraged by the large scale development of wind power. For it to continue, our state will have to aggressively embark on an expansion new transmission capacity just as you suggested, and I am encouraged that Oklahoma regulators have moved forward with a large transmission project connecting promising wind fields in the panhandle to the interior of our state. Where appropriate, I will continue to push for a streamlining of federal regulations that often slow or kill such development. I will also oppose legislation that places barriers in the way of new transmission development-something Congress is prone to do.

You may be interested to know, the Senate recently passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146). Among other things, this bill will remove over three million acres in the United States from energy development - both traditional and renewable. I adamantly opposed this bill and, in fact, I offered an amendment that would have eliminated all restrictions on the development of renewable energy including geothermal, wind, solar, biomass and related infrastructure. Unfortunately, this amendment failed, because short-sighted members of Congress care more about their political careers than what is in the best interests of the nation. Please know I will continue to fight for a common sense energy policy that will provide for the energy needs of future generations.

With respect to your comments on nuclear energy, you should know I believe rather strongly that nuclear power is one of the safest, cleanest sources of power in the world. Nuclear power is now providing about 20 percent of America's electricity, with no air pollution or "greenhouse gas" emissions. It has been successfully used for decades in America and in France, where nuclear reactors produce 78 percent of all electricity. Unlike France, however, our nuclear waste will be recycled without separating plutonium - ensuring increased nuclear energy production is consistent with the Energy Department program's goal of non-proliferation.

Unfortunately, since the 1970s, more than 35 plants were stopped at various stages of planning and construction because of bureaucratic obstacles. Despite these difficulties, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 included several vehicles for progress including loan guarantees for advanced nuclear reactors and standby support framework for new nuclear power plant construction to protect against regulatory or judicial delays for six reactors. Nevertheless, nuclear power still faces significant obstacles, and I will continue to support efforts to streamline the licensing process.

I would encourage you to contact your state representatives on the topic of nuclear reactors in our state. They may be reached at:

State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre State Representative Jabar Shumate
2300 North Lincoln Boulevard, Room 527B 2300 North Lincoln Boulevard, Room 510
Oklahoma City, OK 73105 Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Phone: (405) 521-5598 Phone: (405) 557-7406
E-mail: easonmcintyre@oksenate.gov E-mail: jabarshumate@okhouse.gov

Furthermore, as a practicing physician, I agree with you smoking is hazardous to the health of smokers and those around them. As a result, I have a no-smoking policy in my office. I also agree it is important to help young people resist a lifetime addiction that will invariably harm their health and likely shorten their life. I believe that government can assist in achieving this goal by promoting healthy lifestyles and better enforcing current tobacco laws.

Thank you again for contacting me on these topics. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Sincerely, A
Tom A. Coburn, M.D.
United States Senator

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