A debate on energy, which was proposed by Tom Manion, Republican candidate for the 8th Congressional District, has been cancelled.According to Manion, incumbent Patrick Murphy was scheduled to appear at the Lower Makefield Farmers Market at Edgewood and Heacock roads Aug. 7 from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m.

The debate was proposed for Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. Manion had announced the challenge at a press conference held in Doylestown on Aug. 1 across the street from Murphy headquarters.

"I've got nothing against zucchini," said Manion. "But, I think there are more pressing issues facing our country right now. Last week, I challenged Congressman Murphy to a debate on the topic of energy. It seems he is unable to debate, because he will be judging the zucchini races at a local farm market instead."

Calling energy the most "important issue" of the moment for citizens of District Eight, Manion had formally challenged his opponent to a debate in Doylestown Township.

In a press release, Manion said, "the Democratic leadership turned out the lights on the debate on energy, and went home for vacation. Everyone here at home is struggling. There are steps that can be taken, but when legislation is blocked from coming to a vote, nothing can get done. The least we can do for our community is to continue to discuss the issues while we wait for Congress to re-convene."

In a written invitation to the conference, Manion stated that Murphy began his vacation from Congress on Aug. 1, leaving him available for a debate next week.

Murphy representatives were on hand at the Manion conference with literature indicating that Murphy is not on vacation, but still in Washington to support a vote to increase veteran's funding. They state that he is also staying on in D.C. to continue lobbying efforts for his own bill which would improve voting access for disabled veterans. Further, they state that Murphy is one of 17 (out of 236) House Democrats who opposed taking an August work break.

Murphy has agreed to seven other debates with Manion scheduled for this fall, according to Murphy's camp.

Either way, Manion means to make his points on energy clear. Miffed that Congress has adjourned for the summer without clear energy direction, he sees continued dialogue about solution-seeking as crucial to his would-be constituents.

"Throughout the district I see gas prices skyrocketing," he stated to the crowd of about 20. "These prices are having a huge impact, not only at the pump but also in other areas that affect the district in people's ability to sustain themselves with groceries and transportation."

His approach to problem solving is, he said, "multi-tiered" in that he advocates looking for alternative energy sources and developing incentives for conservation while increasing the domestic oil supply through more U.S. off-shore drilling. "Technological innovations in the areas of nuclear, solar, coal, geothermal and hydrogen energy will receive initiatives under my plan," he wrote.

In terms of offshore domestic oil production, Manion wrote: "Congress must assist the process of expanding exploration of opportunities in oil-rich domestic regions." Further he states, "domestic drilling will decrease our dependence on oil from foreign countries, that, to be frank, don't like us too much." He cites statistics. "According to a CNN research center poll, 73 percent of Americans now favor domestic drilling."

He writes further: "Domestic drilling will also send a signal to the many speculators both here and abroad that a greater supply of oil and natural gas will be on the way. This will help stabilize the price of fuel in the short-term and allow for price-reductions long-term."

Murphy's stance on energy, according to statements he made at a recent visit and press conference from a Bucks County gas station, put him more in favor of finding alternative energy sources and dealing with the issues of long-term natural energy depletion than spending time on short-term off-shore drilling exploration.

Daniel Brooks is a writer for Intercounty Newspapers. He can be reached at tfp@berksmontnews.com.

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