Energy Costs Pose Grave Risk To Vulnerable Americans

Energy Costs Pose Grave Risk To Vulnerable Americans

Congressman Kevin Hern (OK-01) and Derrick Hollie stress the importance of enacting legislation such as H.R. 4266 to reduce the impact of energy costs on vulnerable communities. Americans overwhelmingly support their position.

Congressman Kevin Hern (OK-01) • Derrick Hollie

Opinion

As we head toward Labor Day, there is encouraging news for most Americans: unemployment numbers fell to 5.4% as the economy added 943,000 jobs in July.

Unfortunately, these economic downturns are not felt equally by all. Black and Hispanic unemployment dropped to 8.2% and 6.6% respectively, but the figures remain high compared to the jobless rate for their White and Asian counterparts.

We must address the clear divide in America between communities who are coming back from the pandemic, and those becoming more financially vulnerable.

A recent TIPP Poll asked Americans about energy independence, the role of energy producers in crafting legislation, and the need for impact assessment when passing new policy.

At 71%, the vast majority of Americans support an assessment to determine the economic impact of energy policy on America's low-income communities. The support is consistent across the board, regardless of party affiliation or political ideology. The American public agrees that the Biden administration cannot wantonly make decisions that isolate and disadvantage at-risk Americans.

Energy Poverty exists when low-income families or individuals spend up to 30% of their total income on their household electric bills. Although increased oil and gas prices affect every American, higher energy prices hit Black Americans at a disproportionate rate. Median incomes for Black Americans are 33% lower than the national average, making high energy prices even more destructive for these communities.

Minorities are not the only Americans at risk for energy poverty. While rising inflation and higher energy prices hurt all of us, low-income, rural, and senior citizens suffer the most from a lack of access to reliable energy sources – and spend proportionately much more of their income on electricity and related costs.

Today’s inflation is comparable to 2008, and Americans’ pocketbooks are hurting after a summer of spending. June data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 24.5 percent increase in the energy index over the past 12 months. Gasoline specifically rose 45.1%. Access to energy should not come with a prohibitive or exclusive price tag.

In June 2021, the Energy Poverty Prevention and Accountability Act (H.R. 4266) was introduced in the U.S House of Representatives. This bill addresses exactly what the Biden Administration’s policy does not: the welfare of those people hit the hardest by high energy costs. H.R. 4266 would mitigate the disparate impact of increases in the cost of energy on vulnerable communities. Additionally, it would employ U.S agencies such as the Department of the Interior to identify barriers to energy access for those who live on Federal or tribal land. This bill has 11 co-sponsors and cross-country support with representatives ranging from Georgia to Minnesota.

Ensuring that energy remains accessible and affordable for all Americans is an issue on which we remain unified.

Congressional Democrats and the Biden Administration have proven that we can no longer rely on them to advocate for vulnerable communities. Americans continue to struggle economically due to COVID -- and proposing bans on the domestic energy industry simply does not make sense, as this will only drive prices higher by outsourcing our energy needs.

It is never prudent to ban safe, reliable sources like oil and natural gas for unproven and unreliable renewable sources, and with the uncertainty that comes with this virus, it is even more untimely to penalize domestic mining. We can not pursue climate action at the expense of leaving at-risk Americans behind in the process.

In order to protect our most vulnerable citizens, we need to continue to explore and develop America's vast natural energy resources that provide jobs for millions of low-income and union workers, and clean, reliable, and affordable energy for all.

We believe enacting legislation such as H.R. 4266 -- which mitigates the impact of the cost of energy on vulnerable communities -- is a positive step forward and should be enacted immediately. Fortunately, most Americans agree.

Kevin Hern represents Oklahoma's first district in the US House of Representatives. Representative Hern spent 35 years as a small business owner before running for Congress in 2018. Now, he serves on the Ways & Means Committee, the House Energy Action Team, and leads the Budget & Spending Task Force for the Republican Study Committee.

Derrick Hollie is the founder of Reaching America, a 501(C)(4) organization that uses grassroots efforts, social media, traditional media, and PR to advocate for reduced regulation on the fossil fuel industry as well as other issues affecting African Americans and other vulnerable communities in our country today.


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TIPP Takes

China Holds Assault Drills Near Taiwan After 'Provocations'

China Holds Assault Drills Near Taiwan After 'Provocations'

China carried out assault drills near Taiwan, with warships and fighter jets exercising off the southwest and southeast of the island.

In a brief statement, the PLA's Eastern Theatre Command said warships, anti-submarine aircraft, and fighter jets had been dispatched close to Taiwan to carry out "joint fire assault and other drills using actual troops."

Taiwan's Defence Ministry said 11 Chinese aircraft entered its air defense zone, including two nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and six J-16 fighters, and that it had scrambled jets to warn China's planes away.

It was not immediately clear what set off the flurry of Chinese military activity. Earlier this month, the United States approved a new arms sale package to Taiwan, an artillery system valued at around $750 million.


N. Korea Sees Ties With China As 'Fundamentally Distrustful'

N. Korea Sees Ties With China As 'Fundamentally Distrustful'

North Korea is economically dependent on China but views their relationship as fundamentally based on distrust, a U.S. think tank said Tuesday.

The Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., also said that China is unwilling to solve the North Korean issue as it views Pyongyang through the lens of competition with the United States.

The think tank attributed the deep distrust between Pyongyang and Beijing to the North's "Juche," or self-reliance ideology, and more specifically to historical events, such as the Minsaengdan Incident in the 1930s, a massacre of ethnic Koreans carried out by the Communist Party of China in the name of purging pro-Japanese spies.

It also pointed out that Beijing, unlike Washington, does not want to see regime change in the North as it could promote stronger U.S. influence over the Korean Peninsula.

"Ultimately, it is likely that China would prefer the deAmericanization of the peninsula rather than its denuclearization," it said.


Afghanistan Not A Parallel With Taiwan

Afghanistan Not A Parallel With Taiwan

Holmes Liao, formerly of the National Defense University, said that Afghan leaders are corrupt, while Taiwan has a stable democracy.

Additionally, Taiwan's defense strategy is based on a standard island military defense instead of the domestic strife and guerrilla warfare that typify the conflicts in Afghanistan and previously Vietnam, he said, calling the two "entirely different."

Critics have been quick to compare the situation to the fall of Saigon after the withdrawal of U.S. troops during the Vietnam War, with some suggesting that the U.S.' track record bodes poorly for Taiwan's chances in the event of an invasion by China.

The hidden problems facing Taiwan are the belief in a "great Chinese nation," defeatism, and unprofessionalism within all ranks of the military leadership, Liao said.


Documentary Delves Into Secrets Of Salvator Mundi

“The Lost Leonardo”, a documentary by Danish filmmaker Andreas Koefoed, follows the unlikely tale of Salvator Mundi – a 500-year-old painting of Jesus Christ, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, that has been mired in controversy ever since it resurfaced in New Orleans in 2005.

Documentary Delves Into Secrets Of Salvator Mundi

In 2017, Salvator Mundi, an oil on wood painting of Jesus Christ, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, sold for a staggering $450 million and subsequently disappeared from view.

It later transpired its buyer was little-known Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, most likely at the behest of his friend and ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – possibly buying it for a planned cultural hub in the kingdom’s Al-Ula region.

The celebrated painting was expected to be exhibited at the Louvre in 2019 as part of a Leonardo da Vinci retrospective celebrating 500 years since his death, but failed to materialize – likely due to the museum’s refusal to exhibit it alongside the Mona Lisa, as had been requested by the Crown Prince.

In 2019, Artnet.com reported that the painting was adorning a wall in the Saudi prince’s superyacht Serene, somewhere in the Red Sea. It has not been seen in public since 2017.

Experts at the Louvre in Paris have attributed the work to Da Vinci’s workshop, rather than to the artist himself, meaning its previous bloated sale value may have been spectacularly over-priced.

“The Lost Leonardo”, a new documentary by the Danish filmmaker Andreas Koefoed (currently in select cinemas), follows the unlikely history of the painting, and its baffling leaps in value from a little over $1,000 in 2005 to $450 million 12 years later.


App Disrupts Health Care Services In Eastern DR Congo's Goma

App Disrupts Health Care Services In Eastern DR Congo's Goma

The app is getting good reviews in Goma, a city in eastern Congo where health infrastructure remains poor.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, access to quality healthcare is expensive and tedious. But Bienvenue Zigabe has managed to create an application to facilitate faster access to medical services.

"Wiiqare" helps patients pay for treatment and drugs using their savings or on credit.

Patients can treat anything from malaria to the most complex ailments without worry. They can then make mobile payments or ask for credit. It is a way to revolutionize access to care in a region where it is expensive and virtually non-existent.

Users can also keep savings meant for health care on the app, maintaining a piggy bank of sorts to cater for health emergencies.

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