Kind pushes energy policy

In a student forum Wednesday afternoon in the President’s Room of Davies Center, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., updated the status of the House-passed higher education bill and unveiled his “Greenest Generation Challenge.”

Kind co-authored a bill called the “New Apollo Energy Act”, which would invest in alternative, renewable energy sources and is modeled after the successful space missions of the 1960s.

Back then, many doubted John F. Kennedy and his quest to put a man on a moon before the end of the decade, Kind said.

“President Kennedy and his mission marshaled the resources and collective know-how of the nation, and the Apollo project was successful,” Kind said to a group of about 15, including many of UW-Eau Claire’s College Democrats. “I think the same type of dedication and marshalling of resources is needed now with a new energy policy.”

Kind is running for a sixth term in Congress. He will face Republican challenger Paul R. Nelson in the Nov. 7 election.

Kind’s presentation included a poster of simple ways people can save energy, such as unplugging electronics, using energy-efficient light bulbs and turning the thermostat down.

Kind said the country must limit its dependency on foreign oil and fossil fuels, but challenged college campuses and students to also work on reducing energy consumption.
One of the largest expenses universities face is energy costs, Kind said, which affects tuition costs.

“Just as the previous generation . was rightfully referred to as the ‘Greatest Generation’, I think your generation needs to be known as the ‘Greenest Generation,’ ” Kind said. “We, in short, need a new energy policy for a new century, and I’m convinced it’s going to be your generation that’s going to help show the way.”

Senior and College Democrats member Hannah Lott said it is important for young people to recognize current environmental problems. At a recent sustainable environment fair, Lott said few attendees were college-aged.

“It’s really discouraging when you see how many older people are there and not people our age who are taking notice of these same issues,” Lott said.

Nelson could not be reached for comment Wednesday. According to his official campaign Web site, Nelson supports expanding nuclear energy and the nation’s refining capacity.

Both Kind and Nelson support the advancement of biofuels such as ethanol.

Kind also addressed the federal Higher Education Act, which hecriticized the for cutting $12 billion from federal financial aid. He said a higher education bill most likely will not be passed by the end of the year.

“To be perfectly honest, I’d rather work on a higher ed bill as a member of the majority,” Kind said. “The elections on November 7 are incredibly important. The decisions (in Congress) are made by those who show up on election day.”