Rep. Hinson visits Tama Co., talks gas prices at pump

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) stopped by the Toledo Phillips 66 on Iowa Avenue West Thursday morning to talk gas prices with people at the pump. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) was back on the trail bright and early Thursday morning, and her first stop was the Toledo Phillips 66 gas station. Hinson spoke with individuals as they pumped their gas and listened to the concerns that they had regarding energy prices.

Hinson said being able to speak with her constituents about these important topics is imperative in order to “peel back the curtain,” and she felt “being armed with stories” directly from the people she represents is key to advocating for changes to energy policy in Washington D.C.

“(That’s) what the point was today, was talking to people about what they’re experiencing, what I think we can offer as an all-of-the-above-energy strategy, and helping to drive down those costs for everyone, because the stories I heard at the pump today are the stories I’ve been hearing throughout the district,” Hinson said.

Hinson said one individual told her about having to put in extra shifts at work because he drives from Tama to Cedar Falls daily, and Hinson asked him how much more the increased gas prices are costing him. He responded that he didn’t want to even look.

She also referenced another individual who runs a small landscaping business that uses both regular fuel and diesel fuel, and according to Hinson, he told her that with the increases in the last year, fuel costs are up about $7,000 compared to 2021.

“That’s the kind of real feedback that we’re getting from people who understand it’s really hurting them,” Hinson said. “It comes down to, OK, are we listening to the people back home? And this is a prime example where we can go to Washington and say ‘Here are the real stories from back home and why we need to make a case for the changes in energy policy.'”

Turning to solutions, Hinson said she has been advocating for an all-of-the-above-energy strategy, which seeks to develop and use a combination of resources to meet energy needs.

Hinson disagreed with the Biden Administration’s handling of energy needs, criticizing the choice to dip into the Strategic Petroleum Preserve without ensuring an increase in the production of domestic energy. She not only believes that it puts the country at a disadvantage, but she also feels the decision creates a national security issue.

“The other thing I think is important — we need a finalized offshore drilling plan. Under President Trump, there were more than 10 offshore leases offered. There have been zero in this administration, and so that’s very concerning to me in terms of being able to produce our own energy,” she said.

Hinson also believes that ethanol and biofuels will have a crucial role to play in reducing the cost of energy, and she said investing in the technology needed to increase ethanol production is important for Iowa.

“It is helping give, not only consumers options, you know, in terms of if they want to go E15 or even higher blends. I drive an E85 minivan, and at some points it’s been more than a dollar cheaper a gallon to be able to put fuel in my car and to have that choice as a consumer,” Hinson said. “That’s what we’re pushing for, policy-wise, to help make sure we’re driving energy policy in the right direction.”

A consistent criticism of ethanol has been its fuel efficiency, and when asked whether or not she felt that would have an impact on consumers, Hinson said that she personally hadn’t noticed much of a difference between ethanol and pure gasoline.

“Efficiency is important, and I think there have been a number of studies that look at the octane, you know, the specifics of ethanol as well, and I can tell you, I mean, I don’t see any drop-off. I calculate down to the miles per gallon and the distance to empty on my car, so I’m tracking all that as well,” Hinson said. “I think the most important part of that conversation is, how can we continue to innovate and not punish the people who are going to take risks to produce our energy? How can we continue to provide more options for consumers, so they can make that choice, not the government telling them what to put in their car?”

Hinson said her strategy differs greatly from the President’s, and she felt her plan would be more beneficial for Iowans based on the conversations she had throughout her campaign.

“It’s a contrast with the Biden Administration policy, where they’re pointing to what California is doing and saying ‘Hey, everybody go buy an electric vehicle,’ but then in the same breath, they’re saying ‘Oh, but wait, don’t charge it, we can’t afford to charge it.’ So, I think that contrast is what’s on the ballot,” Hinson said.

Hinson currently represents the First Congressional District, but if she is re-elected on Nov. 8, she will serve the Second District due to redistricting come January, which will still include Grundy and Tama counties but will no longer include Marshall County. Hinson is running against Democrat Liz Mathis.