August 04, 2006
Guest post: Shane Sklar

First, I would like to say thank you to Charles for the opportunity to post here. I have been an avid reader of Kuff’s blog for quite some time now and check it every day for updates on what's happening in our area.

As some of you know, I'm a pretty young guy to be running for Congress -- at least compared to my opponent. As a fourth-generation rancher, I come from a region and an industry where the things that really matter are handed down from generation to generation -- land, equipment, expertise, and values. So that the fact that my lifetime has seen an unprecedented moment of change in this region and the agricultural industry makes me believe that we need a strong voice in Congress that will stand up for our values, not a narrow personal ideology.

I am convinced that I am the person to provide effective leadership in the House for Texas Gulf Coast families, and I'd like to use this space to talk to you about one particularly exciting change that I think will benefit all of our families if we have the courage to seize the opportunity.

When I was growing up, my family's farm supported my family, my grandparents, and my aunt, uncle and cousins. Today, that land supports only my mom and dad -- and my mom works in town as a first-grade teacher. We could talk for hours about the forces that caused that change for my family, and for thousands like us around the country, but the bottom line is that those forces aren't done changing the world yet, and we've got to decide what we're going to do about it.

I believe that keeping American land in the business of cultivating food and other agricultural products is the right thing to do for our culture and our security. Unfortunately, despite our growing population, we just can't eat all the food our family farmers need to sell to be profitable. The family farm is going to have to find some new markets, and I think that renewable energy has the potential to change their lives and the lives of Texas Gulf Coast families who make their living in fields totally unrelated to food production agriculture.

Consider this: Where winds are strong, wind energy developers will pay rural landowners between $2,000 and $5,000 per turbine installed on their property. Local biomass refineries, like the new bio-diesel plant in Galveston, raise demand for crops and they pay more for crops that would have had to be transported to international markets. The U.S. Department of Energy says that tripling our biomass use could create $20 billion dollars in new income for farmers.

And those are just a few of the reasons to support more research and development of renewable energy technology. Anyone who has felt some pain at the pump in recent weeks or cast a nervous glance at the television as events have unfolded in the Middle East knows we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Crisscrossing our district of ten counties and 180 miles of coastline on $2.80-plus-per-gallon gas has only increased my conviction that diversifying our energy supply is a necessary step we must take to achieve lower prices.

Renewable energy also has the added benefit of reducing our impact on the climate. As a rancher, I know how dramatically a few degrees difference in temperature, or a prolonged drought can impact business. I'm also in a business that can't just pick up and move.

Some people may tell you that renewable energy is great, and that private companies will take care of all the research. They probably will -- when they can't make money doing what they're doing right now. For all the reasons I've listed above, not least among them the continued health of our nations' family farms, I say we shouldn't wait. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is doing great work, and when I am in Congress I will work to support these and other forward-looking programs that put us in
control of our own future.

If this sounds like your vision for the Texas Gulf Coast, I hope you'll take the first step to joining our campaign by visiting and signing up for our e-mail list. While you're there, you can find out more about our upcoming events, contribute , or sign up to volunteer.

Thanks for your support!

Shane Sklar
Candidate for U.S. Congress
14th Congressional District

Shane is the Democratic Nominee for the 14th District of Texas. He and his wife Jill live in Edna, Texas. Shane and his father Darrell are in the cattle business together and raise several hundred head of registered Simbrah cattle.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 04, 2006 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack