A small group of Quad-City business owners held a news conference Wednesday to criticize President Barack Obama’s energy policies and the impact they have had on small businesses.

Brian Kennedy, state chairman of the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan campaign, said gasoline prices across the country are $3.75 to $4 per gallon, double what they were when Obama took office, which has in turn driven up the costs of other products and hurt the economy.

“The president has no plan,” Kennedy said. “He’s clearly failed on this issue.”

The event was held at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop in Walcott, the business Delia Meier’s parents started in 1964. Meier said the cost of diesel fuel is $2 more per gallon than it was four years ago, and that higher fuel prices mean families go out to eat less frequently, go on fewer vacations and have less money to spend on other things.

Kent Paustian, who farms near Walcott with his family, including brother Ross Paustian, a Republican member of the Iowa House representing Iowa’s 84th District, said Obama’s policies have put a “choke hold” on small businesses.

Aaron Tennant, owner of Tennant Truck Lines, Colona, said his business includes a fleet of about 190 trucks that go through about 3.3 million gallons of fuel a year. Spending more money on fuel means the company has less money to spend on expansion and hiring more employees, Tennant said.

Kennedy said Obama has supported the development of alternative fuel sources that are inadequate to meet the country’s energy needs and backed the development of electric cars that consumers don’t want to buy.

He said Romney would address the problem by approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project, which would bring oil from Alberta to refineries in Texas, and expand fuel exploration efforts in the United States.

“We have access to reliable fuel in this country, we just need the leadership to use it,” Kennedy said.

Erin Seidler, a spokeswoman for Obama’s Iowa campaign, responded Wednesday that Obama had doubled fuel efficiency standards and the production of clean energies, making the United States less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last 20 years.

“Mitt Romney’s so-called energy plan is devoid of any policy specifics or concrete steps that would realistically increase our nation’s energy independence,” Seidler said in a statement. “Instead, Romney’s policies would take us backward. He wants to keep giving billions of dollars in tax subsidies to the big oil and gas companies and recklessly open new sensitive areas for drilling, but turn our back on increasing energy efficiency and developing our clean, homegrown energy sources. That’s not a recipe for energy independence — it would only ensure that big oil’s profits continue to increase while we cede our clean-energy sector and the jobs it supports to our overseas competitors.”

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