Politicians Alarmed By Rising Gas Prices

Monday, April 24, 2006

Members of the House and Senate are getting an ear full from their constituents about rising gasoline prices and, in response, they are lashing out at big oil companies.

Nationally, the average price for a gallon of regular gas is $2.90, a 15.5% hike over the past month, according to the AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. A month ago, the auto club said, the average price was $2.51.

A senior Republican Senator is calling for a tax on excessive oil company profits that a growing number of politicians are describing as "extreme and obscene." The voters are indeed angry.

"These gas companies keep gouging us so they can keep getting their double-digit profits, this needs to stop!" said Stephanie of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in a complaint to ConsumerAffairs.Com. "Gas stations raise prices .08 cents everyday and sometimes change the price twice a day ... cheating people out of their hard earned money," said Marissa of Lakewood, N.J.

"It's taking food off my table," said James of Alexandria, Va. "I am having trouble and I'm late paying my daughter's tuition. No vacation this year. I'm charging gas on my credit card because I don't have $50 to put 20 gallons of gas in my car." Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) says a windfall profits tax is "something worth considering," as well as legislation targeting consolidation of oil companies. Specter earlier this month introduced legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement of the oil and natural gas industry to counter the consolidation of production and refining operations.

Specter, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said voters are angry, and politicians need to take heed. "Anybody up for election this year ought to be working very hard, taking it very seriously," he said on CNN's "Late Edition." Sen. Byron Dorgan, (D-N.D.) is proposing a 50 percent excise tax on profits from oil sold at more than $40 a barrel.

Republican Congressional leaders plan to send President Bush a letter this week calling for a price-fixing investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department.

While traveling in California over the weekend, Bush warned of even higher prices as vacation time approaches. Bush visited the California Fuel Cell Partnership, which is developing hydrogen fuel cells. "These fuel cells have the potential to revolutionize the way we power our cars by giving us vehicles that will emit no pollution and will be more efficient than gas-powered cars," he said.

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