Donnelly says natural gas, ethanol cornerstones of Indiana's economy

EVANSVILLE — Renewable energy sources such as natural gas and ethanol are cornerstones of Indiana's economy and steps along the road toward America's energy independence, according to Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Joe Donnelly.

Meeting with Courier & Press editors Wednesday Donnelly, who currently serves as Indiana's Second District congressman, noted the relationship between energy independence and cooperative foreign relations.

Maintaining relationships between countries such as Russia and Iran are difficult, he said, but slightly easier to deal with when "natural gas prices are less than when they are more."

"The more we pursue our own energy policy in terms of American energy, I think you will also find that internationally other countries become easier to work with," Donnelly said.

Two renewable resource endeavors Donnelly has backed while in Congress include the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport Canadian oil to various locations in the U.S., and ethanol production.

Donnelly said he supports the Keystone XL pipeline because "the money either stays here, or the money goes somewhere overseas and to another country."

Donnelly said with 40 percent of Indiana's corn crops going to ethanol production, and the by-products used for hog and livestock feed, ethanol is "an incredible driver of Indiana's economy."

He said during the tough economic times in 2009, the agriculture industry was still strong.

"It was one of the underpinnings of our economy," Donnelly said. "At a time when, if you ask our farmers, they'll tell you that things are probably as good as they've been in their lifetime."

Donnelly, from Granger, Ind., ran in 2006 for the Indiana 2nd District U.S. Representative and won. In an hourlong meeting with Courier & Press editors, he said he has been ranked in "the middle of the road" in the U.S. House of Representatives, and has worked to reflect what his constituents want in a historically conservative district.

Donnelly, who will face Republican Richard Mourdock, currently state treasurer, on the November ballot, said rigid ideologies and unwillingness for politicians to work together won't get the job done in Congress — that politicians need to stick to their core principles but still be willing to listen to other's arguments.

"I think it's important to work together," Donnelly said. "You have core principles, and you stick to (them), but you don't' have to give up your core principles to make sure you can accomplish some things."

Donnelly cited Mourdock's comments an April 19 meeting with Courier & Press editors where he said, "For all the cries for bipartisanship, it is bipartisanship that has taken us to the brink of bankruptcy. We don't need bipartisanship as much we need as the application of principle."

"So when the statement you make on TV is 'I believe bipartisanship is Democrats doing what Republicans want them to do,' that's just not going to fly." Donnelly said. "You go there with the idea that I have very strong principles. I'm going to stand for my principles, but I'm also going to be grown up and mature enough to work together with others."

Donnelly, who as a Congressman supported the structured bankruptcy proceedings for Chrysler and General Motors, said while he doesn't like supporting legislation that has to step into the marketplace, it's better than the alternative of people losing jobs.

"So what we're trying to do is to make sure that there is a plan in place that they could get to the other side. We could get it right back to free market ASAP and get it paid back," Donnelly said. "Nobody wants to do those things, but that's what you're hired to do. We're hired not just to be inflexible and say, 'I'm not even going to think about this.'"

Donnelly also commented on the relationship and dependence on China for a cheaper manufacturing alternative to producing goods in the U.S.

"On an economic level, China has in many ways played us," he said. "And we let them do that. We let them manipulate their currency. A lot of our jobs went to China."

He said manufacturers see that wages are less in China — as well as a lack of labor and environmental standards — so producing goods in China is a cheaper move.

"Then (manufacturers) can ship the product back in under a currency that is significantly undervalued," he said, and if the Chinese currency can be valued fairly, he believe the country will see more jobs headed back to the U.S.

"As China matures more and more, we hope that their economic polices become much more responsible."

As for the health care legislation, Donnelly said he supported it because there were many good provisions, including allowing young people to stay on their parent's insurance plans until they area 26 years old, and the free wellness and preventive checkup program.

"Is it perfect? No. Can we fix the things that are in there? That's what we're trying to do everyday."

He said he is currently co-sponsor of legislation that would repeal a tax increase on medical de

vice manufacturers worth about $30 billion over the next nine years.

Mourdock has met with Courier & Press editors previously, including the April 19 session, and looks to meet with them again sometime before the November election.

source: courierpress


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