Fw: Senator Boxer Works to Stop Rising Gas Prices
- 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.
From: "U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer" <BulletinFeedback@...>
Sent: May 3, 2004 2:40 PM
Subject: Senator Boxer Works to Stop Rising Gas Prices
I thought you would be interested in the following message.
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
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
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
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:
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.