Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats Work to Provide Immediate Relief From High Gas and Home Heating Prices

WASHINGTON, DC - While big oil companies reported record high profits this week, Senate Democrats today urged real relief from record high gas and home heating prices for America’s families.

“It’s long past time for the Congress to address the increasingly high energy prices consumers have faced over the last two years. While oil companies have reaped record profits middle-class families have been left wondering whether anyone in charge of the government had noticed,” said Democratic Leader Harry Reid. “Democrats have held hearings on their own and offered a steady stream of short and long-term solutions to provide relief to consumers and I hope the Senate is now ready to work on them. America needs better policies than our country has now to deliver affordable, clean and secure energy supplies.”

“Today we have learned that Exxon Mobil has posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion, the largest in U.S. corporate history, even as we in Michigan and across the nation are reeling from the Delphi bankruptcy, the largest in U.S. history,” Stabenow said. “Corporations have a right to earn a legitimate profit, but public also has a right to know that these profits are legitimate and not the result of any market manipulation or price collusion, particularly when these profits affect every family, every business, every job.

Democrats have offered a number of solutions to address suspected price gouging in the oil industry, to provide relief to consumers and to take real steps to make America energy independent by 2020. Democrats know that together, we can do better than sitting on our hands while consumers are getting pinched at the pump. Its time to take action on commonsense solutions that put American families first.

DEMOCRATIC SOLUTIONS TO STOP PRICE GOUGING:

Banning gasoline price gouging and improving market transparency. Senator Cantwell and 26 Democratic cosponsors introduced the Energy Emergency Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (S. 1735), which would establish a federal ban on price gouging for oil, gasoline, and other petroleum products during times of national energy emergencies declared by the President. This bill would provide civil and criminal penalties for price gouging, ban market manipulation, and require greater transparency in oil and gasoline markets. The bill was introduced in the Senate on September 20, 2005.

Imposing federal penalties for price gouging. Senators Bingaman and Bill Nelson introduced the Price Gouging Act of 2005 (S. 1744), which would give federal authorities power to prosecute oil and gasoline suppliers who overcharge for motor fuels in a declared disaster area. The bill also sets criminal and civil penalties for suppliers convicted of price gouging. S. 1744 was introduced in the Senate on September 21, 2005.

Investigating gasoline price gouging now. Senators Pryor, Mikulski, Salazar, Bill Nelson, Harkin, Corzine, Stabenow, and Obama introduced an amendment (S. Amdt. 1703) to the Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2006 that would require the Federal Trade Commission to conduct an immediate investigation into nationwide gas price spikes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Commission would be charged with investigating: any evidence of price gouging; changes in the average monthly profit levels for producers, distributors, and sellers before and after Hurricane Katrina; and the effects of such price gouging on the United States economy. The amendment was introduced in the Senate on September 13, 2005 and was passed by unanimous consent on September 14, 2005.

DEMOCRATIC SOLUTIONS TO PROVIDE RELIEF TO CONSUMERS:

Providing a tax rebate to American gas consumers. Senators Dorgan, Dodd, and Boxer introduced the Windfall Profits Rebate Act of 2005 (S. 1631), which would impose a temporary windfall profit tax on large oil companies and return the tax collected back to American consumers in the form of a rebate. Profits used toward investments in new refining capacity and alternative energy infrastructure would be exempted from the tax. The bill was introduced in the Senate on September 7, 2005.

Aiding low-income families with high energy costs. Senators Reed has fought to provide relief to working families to heat their homes this winter. The Senate has rejected on three separate occasions his effort to increase funding for the Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by $3.1 billion to the program’s authorized level.

Provide a $500 Tax Rebate to Consumers. Senator Stabenow introduced the Energy Tax Rebate Act to provide relief to consumers from high prices. The bill provides a $500 tax rebate to consumers, require price transparency for petroleum products, make it unlawful to knowingly provide false information to the federal government related to the prices of petroleum products and make geographic price-setting and territorial restrictions imposed by refiners illegal.

DEMOCRATIC SOLUTIONS TO MAKE AMERICA ENERGY INDEPENDENT:

Creating a strategic gasoline and jet fuel reserve. Senator Durbin and Schumer introduced the Strategic Gasoline and Fuel Reserve Act of 2005, which would establish a 47.5 million barrel reserve of gasoline and jet fuel. The bill was introduced in the Senate on September 29, 2005.

Cutting dependence on foreign oil. Senators Cantwell, Feinstein, Reid, Durbin, Obama, Salazar, Dorgan, and Kerry introduced S. Amdt. 784 to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The amendment would have required the President to present a plan to reduce imports of foreign oil by 40 percent by 2025. Senate Republicans opposed this amendment, and it was not included in the Energy bill.

Enacting a national renewable electricity standard. Senator Bingaman and a bipartisan group of 14 cosponsors introduced S. Amdt. 791 to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The amendment would have required electric utilities to produce 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The Senate adopted this amendment, but House Republicans removed it from the Energy bill in conference.

Creating a tire fuel efficiency program. Senators Schumer, Cantwell, and Lautenberg introduced S. Amdt. 811 to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The amendment would have provided for a national tire fuel efficiency program. Proper inflation of tires and replacing old tires with fuel-efficient tires could save 470,000 barrels of oil per day by 2013. The Senate adopted this amendment, but House Republicans removed it from the Energy bill in conference.

###

Bookmark and Share