Senate Democrats

Democratic Senators, Citizens Discuss Energy Bill That Addresses Root Causes Of High Gas Prices

Washington, DC—Democratic Senators Carl Levin, Jack Reed, Amy Klobuchar and citizens suffering from the effects of ever-rising gas prices held a press conference today to discuss the Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008, a bill that puts consumers’ concerns over those of Big Oil, OPEC and oil traders by addressing the root causes of high energy costs. Democrats are committed to creating solutions to the energy crisis that will have a real, lasting effect.

“Day after day, record-high oil and gasoline prices are hurting millions of American consumers and businesses,” Levin said.  “Unless something is done to make energy more affordable, these record-high prices will continue to reverberate throughout our economy, increasing the prices of transportation, food, manufacturing and everything in between.  Congress should act now by passing the Consumer-First Energy Act to limit excessive speculation, suspend the senseless filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with $120-a-barrel oil, and impose a windfall profits tax on Big Oil.”

Said Reed: “We understand that the laws of supply and demand result in a market price.  However, many experts suggest that up to 25 percent of the premium for petroleum products is a result of speculation.  This legislation will help prevent price manipulation and distortions that lead to inflated energy prices for American consumers.  It also builds on the bipartisan request that Senator Snowe and I made to get the big oil companies to reinvest some of their windfall profits back into the American economy.”

“With oil soaring over $120 a barrel and oil companies making record profits by drilling into middle-class pocketbooks, it’s time American families had someone looking out for them,” Klobuchar said.  “This legislation would provide families the short-term relief they need, and help America achieve energy security by investing in the farmers and workers in America instead of the oil cartels of the Mideast.”

Said Jim Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters: “More than 600,000 Teamsters earn their living driving vehicles that run on petroleum-based fuel.  These exorbitant prices are hurting our employers, whether they are freight or parcel delivery companies, airlines, police departments, grocery chains or school bus companies.”

“In these times when the cost of the ‘old fossil fuels of the past’ has skyrocketed, rural citizens, whether they live on the farm or work in town, are suffering the most,” said Barbara Leach, President and Founder of My Rural America.  “This season family farmers are enduring an almost 100 percent increase in farm inputs—gasoline, fertilizer, diesel fuel—costs that already are being reflected at the kitchen tables of Americans everywhere.  Rural families in general are having a tough time too because they drive 15% longer distances to get to their job, get the kids to school, or even to get the   families to church on Sunday morning.”

Said Josephine Powe, Maryland Member of the Alliance for Retired Americans: “An extra dollar or two per gallon may not seem like a lot of money to a big oil executive, but to a senior on a fixed income it is everything.  When our costs go up and our income does not, that dollar means you don’t know if you’re going to have enough money to buy food after you fill up the tank.”