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DeFazio Announces Gas Price Stabilization Bill As Gas Prices Climb To $3/Gal in Oregon

Mar 12, 2007
Press Release

March 13, 2007
Press Release | Contact: Danielle Langone (202) 225-6416

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) today announced the reintroduction of legislation to address skyrocketing gas prices. The legislation would increase fuel efficiency standards as well as lower prices by cracking down on price gouging by the OPEC, imposing a windfall profits tax and increasing competition in the oil industry, among other measures.

Gas prices in the state of Oregon are currently the fifth highest of any state in the country. DeFazio's legislation, the Gasoline Price Stabilization Act of 2007, is an updated version of legislation he originally introduced in March 2003.

"We need both short-term measures to protect consumers and businesses from skyrocketing prices at the pump, and longer-term proposals to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and promote alternative technologies," DeFazio said. "The House recently approved an Energy Bill that would repeal a variety of oil industry giveaways and use that money to significantly boost the federal investment in alternative and renewable fuels, energy efficiency and conservation programs. This is a great start, but we must do more to ensure that oil companies are not gouging consumers at the pump while waiting for these longer-term efforts to bear fruit."

The DeFazio legislation includes several short-term and long-term proposals to protect consumers and to reduce our reliance on foreign sources of oil:

1. Requires the President to file a trade complaint with the WTO against OPEC for illegally colluding to raise oil prices, which violates global trade rules.

2. Imposes a windfall profits tax on oil companies to decrease the incentive to gouge consumers.

3. Authorizes the use of the strategic petroleum reserve (a federal reserve of 700 million barrels of oil), as needed, to combat market manipulation and supply problems. Releasing oil from the federal stockpile will help ensure that supply disruptions (whether artificial or real) don't lead to price spikes.

4. Authorizes the Secretary of Energy to establish minimum inventory levels for producers, refiners, and marketers of crude oil and petroleum products in order to limit the impact unexpected supply disruptions have on prices.

5. Reinstates the ban on exporting oil from Alaska.

6. Puts a moratorium on oil company mergers (the non-partisan General Accounting Office reported 2,600 mergers in the U.S. petroleum industry since the mid-1990s - by one measure, four companies control 74 percent of the gasoline market in Oregon). It also creates a commission to investigate the impact mergers are having on prices and to make recommendations to restore competition in the petroleum industry.

7. Establishes a commission to study and report on the concentration of ownership of all aspects of exploring, refining, distributing and selling crude oil and petroleum products.

8. Mandates the average fuel economy standards to be increased to 37 mpg by 2017 and 40 mpg by 2022.

9. Requires the federal fleet of vehicles achieve an average fuel economy that is higher than the baseline average. The federal fleet would have to achieve a fuel economy of 3 miles per gallon higher than the average by 2010, and 6 miles per gallon higher than the average by 2013.

DeFazio is also a cosponsor of two other bills to deal with gas prices—H.R. 594, which would regulate currently unregulated oil trading, and H.R. 1252, which would establish a federal prohibition against price gouging enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.