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Fw: Senator Boxer Works to Stop Rising Gas Prices

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  • Richard Risemberg
    I was indeed interested in this message that came to me from our less-conservative California senator. My reply is below the Senator s text. I hope our
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2004
      I was indeed interested in this message that came to me from our less-conservative California senator. My reply is below the Senator's text. I hope our Californian listmembers will also express their feelings to her.


      -----Forwarded Message-----
      From: "U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer" <BulletinFeedback@...>
      Sent: May 3, 2004 2:40 PM
      To: rickrise@...
      Subject: Senator Boxer Works to Stop Rising Gas Prices

      I thought you would be interested in the following message.


      Dear Friend:

      Rising gas prices is an issue that impacts all Californians.
      Whether you drive a car, own a business, or buy groceries and
      other goods, you feel the pinch of higher gas prices. For
      months, both in Washington and in California, I have been
      focusing on the critical problem of rising gas prices.

      Over the past three months, gasoline prices have spiraled out
      of control. Nationwide, the average price per gallon of gas
      has risen from $1.54 on January 5th to $1.88 on April 12th.
      Here in California, the price increase over this same period
      has been even sharper, from $1.61 to $2.15. In some areas of
      California, the price is much higher. In response to these
      rising prices, I have come up with a 9-point plan to fight
      rising gas prices. My plan includes:

      1. FTC Investigation of Current Situation

      First, I have called on the Federal Trade Commission to
      investigate the current gas price spikes in California, which
      began in mid-February. I have met with the Chairman of the
      FTC, who confirmed that there was an "anomaly" in California?s
      gasoline market and that the FTC was conducting an informal

      2. Automatic Investigations of Rapid Price Increases

      Second, I have introduced legislation that would require an
      automatic investigation of the gasoline market for possible
      manipulation any time that average gasoline prices in a state
      increase by 20% or more over a three-month period. If the FTC
      finds market manipulation in a given case, they would work with
      the state?s Attorney General to determine penalties to be
      imposed on the companies.

      3. "Cease and Desist" Orders in Highly Concentrated Markets

      I am cosponsoring the Gasoline Free Market Competition Act
      authored by Senator Wyden, which would give the FTC the
      authority to issue "cease and desist" orders in order to
      prevent market manipulation whenever four or fewer gasoline
      companies control more than 70 percent of the gas supply in a
      given market.

      4. Strategic Petroleum Reserve

      We need to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ? which
      is now at 93% of capacity ? in order to increase the supply of
      gasoline on the market. We should also establish a short-term
      "exchange" in which some oil in the SPR is released immediately
      and refilled later, just as SPR reserves were released four
      years ago to ease the home heating oil crisis in the Northeast.
      It doesn?t even make sound economic sense to buy gas for the
      reserve when prices are at a peak.

      5. Increased Production by OPEC

      I am cosponsoring a Senate resolution that calls on the
      President to work with OPEC to increase world crude oil
      supplies in order to achieve stable crude oil prices.
      President Bush should work with OPEC to increase supply.

      6. Subject OPEC to U.S. Anti-Trust Laws

      I am cosponsoring a bipartisan bill authored by Senator DeWine
      that would subject OPEC to the laws prohibiting collusion,
      market manipulation, and other anti-competitive behavior.

      7. Save the Bakersfield Refinery

      I have called on Shell Oil to find a buyer for its Bakersfield
      refinery and commit to keeping the refinery open until a buyer
      is found. I have also asked the FTC and Attorney General Bill
      Lockyer to use their powers to stop the refinery from closing.
      We cannot afford to lose any more California refinery capacity.
      If this refinery closes, it will only further stress an already
      tight California market.

      8. Oxygenate Waiver

      Along with Governor Schwarzenegger, Senator Feinstein, and
      California?s bipartisan Congressional delegation, I have called
      on the EPA to grant California a waiver from the requirement
      that an oxygenate ? MTBE or ethanol ? be added to gasoline.
      Adding ethanol to gasoline may already be driving prices higher
      in some parts of the state.

      9. Fuel Formula Investigation

      We may be able to reduce price spikes by reducing the number of
      different fuel formulations now required by different
      jurisdictions. I have asked the General Accounting Office to
      investigate whether we can do this while maintaining the same
      air quality benefits that we get with California's
      cleaner-burning gasoline.

      I believe that these steps, if implemented, would go a long way
      toward easing gasoline price spikes in California and
      preventing further price gouging in the future. If you have
      questions about any item on my 9-point plan or if you would
      like to send me any other idea, I encourage you to contact me
      at http://boxer.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm


      Barbara Boxer
      United States Senator

      If you would like to make a comment regarding this or any other
      federal matter, please feel free to do so at:

      Richard's reply:

      Dear Senator Boxer:

      Why try further to suppress gas prices? They are already kept artifically low even now, at over $2.00 a gallon, and this subsidy distorts the "mobility market" by falsely devaluing other access modalities such as mass transit, rail freight, and compact urban delveopment; conversely, it encourages such wasteful practices as sprawling suburban development that requires huge tax expenditures in road building and maintenance to serve relatively fewer people per acre who are paying less per square foot in property taxes that folks in high-density areas.

      There is also the value of taxes lost to road and parking infrastructure to support car and truck use over other modes, and teh value of time lost to congestion and health worn away by stress and noise and air pollution. These are real costs which have been quantified by the GAO (I believe; I don't have the reference with me now); if these costs were paid by users through a gas tax, gas would cost over $8/galon at the pump.

      Look, oil is a limited commodity in high demand; while a modest subsidy is not out of line--provided it is no more in proportion to real cost than the subsidies grudgingly given to mass transit and Amtrak--to encourage more gasoline use at a time when sprawl threatens farmland and watershed (talk about a REAL homeland security issue!) and an imperial president is engaging in oil wars is irresponsible. Facilitating driving now further degrades teh health of our cities, our landscape, and our physical selves while making us slaves of oil oligarchs at home and abroad, Work instead to raise the price of gas at the pump, and use the money you raise to support physically, financially, and socially efficient and responsible access modes, such as mixed-use development, rail-based electric mass transit, and high-spped intercity rail.

      Then I'll believe you're thinking beyond the next election.


      Richard Risemberg
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