By Kelly Young

countybeat@jacksonvilleprogress.com

Week Five — Global warming and the environment (Part Two)

Q: Should America be trying to become less dependent on foreign oil and more reliant on alternative sources? How is that best accomplished?

A: Durrett — Absolutely. The high gas prices we’ve been dealing with are largely a function of our dependence on a volatile foreign market. The law of supply and demand dictates gas prices, and to reduce prices we must increase supply or decrease demand. On the demand side, it’s not government’s job to dictate how much we drive or what vehicles we buy, but the state and federal government can help increase supply. I favor measures which will increase domestic oil production and refining capacity, as well as streamline fuel regulations. With the technology that’s now available to us, we can do all that without further eroding air quality. Looking ahead, we must increase production of renewable sources such as wind energy, solar power and other promising alternative energy supplies.

A: Hopson — Absolutely, yes. I would much rather have oil produced locally by local companies and local workers than in Iraq or Saudi Arabia. In the Texas House I have voted for legislation to make oil exploration and production in East Texas more affordable. East Texas has a strong legacy in oil production, but we need more incentives from the state to help local companies stay profitable. Also, we have to do something to lower gas prices at the pump for the consumer. It is outrageous that huge oil and gas corporations have record profits in the billions, and the consumer and small businessman are struggling to survive. This is wrong and immoral. If these giant corporations will not act then we may have to look at doing something in the upcoming legislative session.

Q: What was your position in the Fastrill Reservoir versus the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge debate earlier this summer? What is more important to East Texas right now, a reservoir or a refuge?

A: Hopson — I whole heartedly support the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge and will continue to do so. As an avid hunter and NRA member with an A-plus rating, I know that part of what makes East Texas so great is our vast water resources like Lake Jacksonville, the future Lake Columbia and our wildlife resources like deer, turkeys and hogs. I support greater state funding to expand and enhance our existing lakes before we let Dallas institute a big land grab taking private property away from landowners. The biggest challenge to our water supply is keeping Houston and Dallas from taking it away for their own use. I’ve fought to protect our water, and I will continue the fight to ensure we have control of our water in East Texas and to ensure we have enough water for future generations.

A: Durrett — Now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge has made the decision that the Refuge will proceed, my position is that we must monitor the impact on adjacent landowners and the rest of the region. I believe property rights are sacred and must be protected, and I’m always apprehensive about the federal government taking up more land in East Texas. Hopefully, the Refuge will serve our region well by attracting tourism dollars well into the future.

Q: Does the district have room to grow economically without sacrificing our unique environment?

A: Durrett — I do not believe we have to choose between economic development and protecting our region’s abundant, natural beauty. As long as we take advantage of emerging technologies and identify the best practices for developing our natural resources, we can do both.

A: Hopson — Our local environment is undeniably linked to our economy from cattle and horses, to timber, to hunting and fishing. As other areas of the state suffer from drought and mandatory water usage restrictions, I hope to convince more businesses and industries to come to the 11th District. Cherokee County is the textbook example of how a community can transition from an ag-based economy to a manufacturing economy while preserving our environment.

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