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Bingaman focuses on energy

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By Don Pace

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., met with Las Vegas officials and media outlets during his visit Friday. He also made a stop at Robertson High School, where he toured the campus and gave students a chance to ask questions about national and world affairs.

“I thought I’d take a few minutes and mention a few of the things that are going on in Washington that I think affect your opportunities for the future,” Bingaman said.

The senator said one thing that most of the country and most of the world is “facing up to is that we are going to have to rethink the way our economy works and we’re going to have to do so primarily because of the concerns about energy use, production, transmission and transportation.”

Only a few students raised their hands when Bingaman asked how many students were taking classes that have anything to do with global warming and greenhouse gas issues.

“I think more and more of our public policy in Washington is being driven by the concern about what we are doing to the planet and what the effect of greenhouse gasses are going to be,” Bingaman said. He said what the country does about this issue in the long term will have an effect on whether or not the United States has a stable economy.

Bingaman said this is relevant to high school students because new industries that will evolve from renewable energies like wind and solar will require higher levels of training than in the past. He noted that there were many more advanced placement courses at Robertson in the last few years, which is important because the world is becoming very competitive and other countries are moving ahead rapidly to train the next generation of students to succeed in a high-tech world.

As the senator opened the floor to questions, one student asked about countries like China flooding the U.S market with cheap and sometimes unsafe products.

Bingaman said this is becoming a global economy, but the United States need to be sure that imports coming into this country are safe and that this nation should be testing foreign goods more strictly. He said there should be a crackdown on companies that take advantage of children to produce cheap goods.

Another student asked if the war in Iraq could lead to World War III.

“I don’t thing we’re going to have a World War III over in Iraq,” he said. “I do think we are bogged down in a very unfortunate war in Iraq, one that I voted for us not to go into, but we need to find a way to bring the troops home as early as possible and reduce the number of U.S. troops and the U.S. presence in that country to the greatest extent possible. It’s not only a tremendous loss of American lives and Iraqi lives, but obviously it’s a great expense. It’s costing us somewhere around $12 to 14 billion a month, and that’s just unacceptable.”

Samantha Holtfreter, a senior foreign exchange student from Germany, said, “It’s kind of impressive to meet someone from Washington and hear him talk about world affairs.”

Senior Caroline Maes later said she got a chance to ask Bingaman about one of her big concerns.

“I asked the senator how we can decrease the violence at schools nationwide because here at Robertson we’ve had a lot of fights and a lot of violence this year. It’s two years in April that my brother was killed right across the street from Robertson, and I’m doing a project for my government class with four other students called Project Citizens on how to decrease school violence, so that’s what I was asking the senator.”

Maes said Bingaman gave her a few suggestions. She said she would continue to speak up for a safe learning environment and lobby people like the senator to work for that same goal.