||On Tuesday, President Bush outlined a four-part plan designed to alleviate
escalating gasoline prices: it calls for a Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
investigation into price gouging, the promotion of greater fuel efficiency,
increasing the supply of crude oil and gasoline, and investing in alternative
sources of energy.
The President’s energy plan is nothing new. It is simply filled
with ideas that I proposed eight months ago. As a member of the House
Energy and Commerce Committee, I called on the President last August and
September to suspend deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)
and introduced legislation to establish a timeline for the FTC to conduct
an investigation into price gouging. Although the Energy Policy Act
of 2005 directs the FTC to conduct an investigation into price gouging,
there is no definitive timeline mandated by the legislation. Additionally,
I am a co-sponsor of H. Res. 299, which requires the President to suspend
acquisitions to the SPR.
While the suspension of deliveries to the SPR will provide an immediate,
short term fix for today’s escalating gas prices, we must also develop
a long term plan that invests in renewable and alternative energy sources
which will ultimately reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This
is why I am co-sponsoring H.R. 1398, legislation that mandates ten percent
ethanol in all gas and five percent biodiesel in all diesel by the year
2010. Increasing the amount of ethanol and biodiesel in our domestic
fuel will provide a new market for our farm families and reduce the price
we pay at the pump by as much as 70 cents a gallon. These standards
will also create jobs at ethanol and biodiesel plants and reduce our dependence
on foreign oil.
Another vital component of the Energy Policy Act is the provision for
federal tax credits of up to $3,400 for the purchase of a hybrid vehicle.
Hybrid vehicles promote greater fuel efficiency by relying on a combination
of gasoline and electric power. Fueleconomy.gov is an excellent web-based
resource for detailed information on how to obtain the credit.
While I applaud the President for echoing my call of nearly eight months
ago, I fear his push for an investigation into price gouging and the suspension
of deliveries to the SPR is too little, too late. Farm families throughout
America have gone out of business over the last eight months due to unprecedented
gas and diesel prices. Many of Arkansas’s working families tackle
difficult choices about their basic necessities as they face record breaking
prices at the pump. As the Representative for Arkansas’s Fourth Congressional
District, I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of
the aisle to reduce the price that Americans pay at the gas pump.