Editorial

You Made Your Voice Heard - But Don't Stop Now!

by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Exec. Editor

Richard Johnstone

 Government is too big and important to be left to the politicians.”  — Chester Bowles, 20th-century American business leader and diplomat.

 “People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote — a very different thing.”  — Walter H. Judd, 20th-century American missionary, Congressman, editor and radio commentator.

 “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.”  — Thomas Jefferson, Virginian, 3rd U.S. President, statesman, philosopher, inventor, architect and founder of The University of Virginia.

 “Of the many things we have done to democracy in the past, the worst has been the indignity of taking it for granted.” — Max Lerner, 20th-century American author and newspaper columnist.

 The late, great Mr. Lerner can continue to rest easy — Cooperative Living’s readers decidedly did not take democracy — or the value of their views on a critically important issue before Congress — for granted! As soon as our August issue began arriving in mailboxes, with its admonitions to contact Virginia U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner about climate change/energy issues, many of you picked up the phone to make your voices heard.

In the first part of August, about 3,000 calls were made to the toll-free number, 1-877-40BALANCE. Callers to this number — which is still active and available — hear a recorded message that provides information on the climate change/energy bill passed by the House of Representatives in late June. Callers are then given the option to be connected to the office of either Senator Jim Webb or Senator Mark Warner. About 2,000 electric cooperative folks ended up speaking with the senators’ offices during this time, sharing their concerns about the bill passed by the House, and expressing their desire for the senators to keep affordability in mind as the Senate addresses climate change. As you read this, the Senate is likely underway in crafting its own climate change/energy bill, and we need to do everything possible to ensure that the Senate bill — unlike the House bill — finds a balanced solution to climate-change concerns. 

And “Find a Balanced Solution” is precisely the name of the campaign that Virginia’s electric cooperatives are promoting to encourage you to let Senators Webb and Warner know that the Senate simply MUST balance the need to address environmental concerns with the equally important need to keep electricity affordable for American families.

If you haven’t already done so, please call the toll-free number, 1-877-40BALANCE, and let Senators Webb and Warner know your views on the climate change/energy bill that the Senate will be developing, and perhaps voting on, this fall. If the Senate does pass a bill this fall, it must be reconciled with the House version passed in late June, and then the bill agreed upon by both Houses would be sent to the president for his signature. So, right now, before the Senate votes on its version, it is critically important that you add your voice to the loud chorus of voices that have already been heard. Every day, new cooperative callers are forming a steady stream of ongoing contacts to our two Senators, and your electric cooperative encourages you to add your voice to this powerful mix.

And as you make your voice heard, please remember that electric cooperatives, as not-for-profit, customer-owned businesses, are and always have been deeply committed to protecting the environment. Our employees and board members live and work alongside you in the communities we serve. Environmental stewardship has been a watchword for cooperatives since our founding in the 1930s.

But electricity MUST be kept affordable for average folks. If Congress makes the wrong choices as it develops a climate change/energy bill, then the nation’s economy, your pocketbook and indeed our collective future as Americans, will be hampered, harmed and hammered. We need to maintain an environmentally responsible electricity supply as an available, affordable and reliable part of our lives.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the House bill that passed in June is that no one really knows how much that bill would increase electricity costs for average Americans, only that it would do so. Credible experts are predicting increases that range from negligible to nightmarish. Which precisely makes our point that Congress MUST make the right decisions for our economy AND our environment.

Congress can afford to do no less. And Americans — after undergoing the worst economic downturn in decades — should not be forced to pay more than is absolutely necessary for a product that positively impacts every aspect of their lives.

 

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