In a meeting with party members Monday, state Democratic Rep. Mark Strama, of Austin, discussed Sen. Barack Obama's energy plan and how the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's goals will affect Texans.
Strama met with more than 40 party members at the Travis County Democratic Party campaign headquarters during the party's weekly meeting in which members address different issues affecting Texans. This week the group focused on the energy crisis and the future of wind and solar power in the U.S., particularly in Texas.
A poll, conducted by UT faculty in June, interviewed 1,000 Texans, who responded that the top priority in the state has changed from the war to energy concerns.
"We are leaders in oil and gas, but we have to learn to be the leaders in the next technology," Strama said. "There are many reasons why energy must evolve."
Young Conservatives of Texas, a statewide student organization, hosts an annual conference dealing with Republican Party-related issues, but an outlet similar to the Democrats' weekly forum is not available in the Austin area.
Government senior Elizabeth Young, a member of UT's chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas, supports Sen. John McCain's plan calling for increased offshore drilling. Young said Obama will disappoint if
elected, despite his celebrity status among youth.
"If all the youth who are blinded by Obama really knew what was going on, I think many of them would reconsider voting for him," Young said, referring to what she said was a potential increase in taxes and government spending under an Obama administration.
Obama's energy plan involves a short-term and a long-term solution to the national energy crisis, Strama said.
The plan includes providing a $1,000 emergency energy rebate to all American families, cracking down on excessive energy speculation and swapping oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to cut prices, a short-term and realistic plan for struggling families, Strama said.
The long-term plan requires fuel economy standards to increase, mandates that 1 million plug-in hybrid vehicles be on the road by 2015 and establishes a national low-carbon fuel standard.
Strama said the energy crisis affects Texans directly because Texas is the nation's largest supplier of carbon emissions and relies heavily on oil and gas. The use of wind and solar energy in West Texas and the construction of wind farms on the Gulf Coast are two ways Texas can become the forerunner of alternative-fuel usage, he said.
"Even though oil and gas companies have historically helped Texas, we are now finding there are consequences," Strama said.