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Walz talks about energy bill (with video)

Ana Anthony/Daily Globe U.S. Congressman Tim Walz (center) is shown talking about a bipartisan energy bill Thursday. Attendees include Greg Raymo (left), president of First State Bank Southwest, and city council member Lyle Ten Haken.2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- The U.S. needs to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and that is exactly what Rep. Tim Walz touted during his roundtable discussion Thursday morning at the Biotechnology Advancement Center.

Walz was in Worthington to meet with community members about the future of the bipartisan Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Independence Act that he spearheaded.

"Use our resources here, use our coal, natural gas and oil," he said Thursday during his opening speech. "If it's on public land, take the resources from the sale of the leases, and funnel that money back into the reserves."

His vision is to tie transportation infrastructure into a long-range energy plan. According to a press release, Walz's energy bill will reinvest royalty payments from oil companies into areas including job creation and rebuilding infrastructure.

"There's a potential that it can get done because it's a two-for-one plan," he said.

He stressed his confidence in the country's capability of being environmentally friendly as it seeks to "grow economic viability."

"It's ludicrous that we send $1.5 billion a day to countries that hate us," he said. "They'll hate us for free. We don't need to pay them."

Attendees listened as Walz talked about his energy bill but were eager to voice their opinions in other areas of reform.

Community member Bill Wetering discussed the pertinence of immigration reform.

"One of the things I don't hear being talked about at all is the money going out of the country because of our immigration policy," Wetering expressed.

Wetering suggested opponents of immigration reform could agree with the economic development model if they were aware of the money leaving their communities for other countries.

"There are millions of dollars flowing out of Worthington every week because the system does not allow those folks to get their families here," Wetering added. "The people are here legally but their wages are leaving the country,"

Walz was in agreement, stating immigration reform is one of the simpler challenges that the country is faced with.

Wetering stressed it was important to pursue reform in terms of cost.

"It's costing us money and that's plain and simple how we view it,' he added.

Worthington School District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard expressed his frustration in federal and state mandates targeted at schools despite the waiver granted for No Child Left Behind Act.

"Fifteen years ago when I did this job, I had more flexibility in how I managed the system and did the right thing for kids," Landgaard said. "Our local school boards had more decision making power 15 years ago than they do now."

Like the immigration issue, Walz said finding a remedy for education is possible because "it's not one of the most challenging issues our nation is facing."

"I'm hearing you on this and I understand my responsibility to represent the entire spectrum of beliefs," Walz said.

Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony can be reached at 376-7321.