As a former small-business owner and father of three, I know from personal experience how difficult it is to raise a family during an economic downturn. I’ve struggled to make ends meet, pay for my three kids to go to college and keep my business afloat.
We’re all working hard to get the economy back on track in San Joaquin County. Just last month, I supported the American Clean Energy and Security Act, legislation that will create jobs in California and San Joaquin County.
Before I was elected to Congress, I spent more than 20 years working on new energy technologies. I started my own small business and helped develop the type of windmills you see while driving over the Altamont Pass.
I experienced firsthand the excitement of developing new technologies and saw the potential to create jobs. I know that San Joaquin County can and will be a leader in creating new jobs by attracting businesses that build solar panels and windmill parts, construct materials for energy-efficient homes and office buildings, and grow crops for biofuels.
I also want to make sure that San Joaquin County’s workforce has the tools and training for these new jobs, which is why I wrote a part of the bill that provides funding for renewable energy job-training programs. Institutions like San Joaquin Delta College will be able to apply for money to help people in San Joaquin County compete for these new jobs.
I also voted for this bill because our country will be safer when we produce most of our energy at home instead of buying it from overseas. Sept. 11 made it clear that we can’t leave ourselves vulnerable by continuing to send our wealth to hostile countries. We now spend about $400 billion a year to purchase oil from foreign countries, much of which goes to places that are a threat to our national security. This legislation gives us the choice to use energy created in San Joaquin County rather than bought from the Middle East.
If we make gradual changes to increase domestic production of new energy and improve the efficiency of our buildings and cars, we’ll keep more of our dollars at home and save money on our energy costs. California is already ahead of the curve on a lot of the changes that this bill makes and — because of this — California households will begin to see savings in their electricity bills during the coming years.
I was proud to support the American Clean Energy and Security Act because it will help rebuild our economy and strengthen our national security. Let’s rise to the challenge of these tough economic times and show our American entrepreneurial spirit. San Joaquin County can lead the way.
• Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, represents Tracy in Congress. He was first elected to his seat in 2006.