With $4 a gallon gasoline prices starting to hit consumers in the pocketbook in Bradenton and elsewhere across the United States, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was accentuating the positive Tuesday.

For the first time in 13 years, imported oil accounts for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in the U.S., renewable energy use has nearly doubled and the U.S. has reclaimed its position as the world’s leading investor in clean energy, Vilsack said in a phone interview with the Bradenton Herald.

What was unspoken in the interview is that fuel prices are becoming a campaign issue in a presidential election year.

But Vilsack said that consumers have a right to ask questions about an issue that

takes such a toll on the family budget.