In response to the overwhelming public demand for new direction and leadership to meet the energy needs of America’s families, a group of leading Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives announced a real plan to invest in America, grow our energy, and establish energy independence at a press conference recently.

The plan, developed by the Rural Working Group, would rapidly expand the production and distribution of biofuels; encourage the deployment of new engine technologies for flex fuel, hybrid and biodiesel vehicles; and encourage cutting-edge research to develop the next revolution in renewable energy.

“The energy challenges facing our nation are real, but Americans are ready to meet the challenge,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “The answer is right here at home. From corn in the Midwest to soybeans in North Carolina, we grow the crops that can be converted into the biofuels that power our cars. It is good for the environment, good for our economy, and it is good for our farmers.”

“This plan is home-grown and American owned,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman James E. Clyburn. “It severs the ties to foreign imports and puts American production and growth first. It provides a stark contrast to the Republican plan that I call the methadone treatment for oil dependency-replace the addiction to foreign oil with an addiction to foreign ethanol.”

“This legislation sets a path to energy independence for the United States that is fueled by our nation’s rural communities,” said Agriculture Committee Ranking Democrat Collin C. Peterson (D-MN). “The Rural Working Group’s proposal includes practical solutions that will expand ethanol and biodiesel production and will make sure that Americans can find flex-fuel vehicles at auto dealerships and biofuels at local gas stations.”

“Rural Americans are being hit particularly hard by high gas prices,” said U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.), Co-chair of the Rural Working Group. “However, our farmers and our economy stand to benefit from this crisis if we make a commitment to change the way we get our fuel. The answer to our fuel crisis is growing in our fields. By investing in biofuels, we are not only making energy more affordable, we are also investing in rural America. Every dollar we invest in domestic biofuel production is a dollar that stays in America and creates good-paying jobs. It’s a win-win situation for America.”

“Renewable biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel are not only a key way to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and strengthen our national security, but they represent an investment in the future of rural America,” U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.), Co-chair of the House Rural Working Group said. “As patriotic Americans, we can be part of the solution to one of the biggest problems facing our country by making ourselves energy independent, and in the process, we can preserve our way of life in rural America.”