Buffalo, NY—Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) responded to President Bush’s comments made in Washington, DC today at the Renewable Fuels Association conference entitled “Renewable Fuels Summit 2006: Growing America's Energy Security.”
“While President Bush is holding a press conference with empty rhetoric on renewable energy and reducing dependence on foreign oil, he has done nothing to lower the skyrocketing price of gas,” said Higgins. “In today’s speech the President talked about fair treatment for motorists, fuel efficiency and alternative fuels, but he ignored his complicity in pushing prices above $3.00 a gallon. This White House and this Republican leadership in Congress have handed billions in subsidies to the oil and gas companies while ripping off the consumer at the pump.”
Late last year, Higgins introduced H.R. 4479, the Energy Consumer Relief Act of 2005 which would repeal the billions in oil and gas subsidies given out in the Energy Policy Act that Congress passed last year. Oil and Gas companies testified before Congress that they do not need these handouts. To date, 45 Members of Congress have cosponsored Higgins’ bill.
“Since September 2005, Democrats have been calling on President Bush to investigate price gouging, but to no avail; today President Bush said he’d like the Department of Energy and Justice to keep an eye out for gouging—that is not enough,” said Higgins. Higgins is a cosponsor of H.R. 3936 to give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to investigate and prosecute those that engage in predatory pricing - from oil companies on down to local gas stations, with an emphasis on those who profit most at the consumer’s expense. He is also a cosponsor of a bill to make price gouging a federal crime so that the federal government has the ability to act on behalf of its citizens.
Higgins continued, “The President has not mentioned anything for long term relief, but Democrats in Congress have a plan; royalty relief and investment in alternative fuels. The long term solution that the President has not mentioned, because as a former oil-man, he will not abandon his former peers to help American consumers, is to fix the royalty rip off.” The Interior Department has acknowledged that the federal government stands to lose about $7 billion over the next five years in under-collected royalty payments for leases in the Gulf of Mexico from Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron Texaco and other oil companies. Higgins is a cosponsor of the Royalty Relief for American Consumers Act, which would prohibit royalty relief on any future oil and gas leases when energy prices are high and which would instruct the Secretary of Interior to renegotiate current leases to recoup some of the expected losses.
“We can reduce dependency and spur economic development by investing in alternative fuels and by encouraging American auto manufacturers to do the same,” added Higgins. He is a cosponsor of the Healthcare for Hybrids Act which would reimburse American auto manufacturers for a portion of their healthcare costs for retired employees if the company invests at least 50% of those savings in fuel reduction technologies. Higgins continued, “Smart legislation like this can reduce our dependence on foreign oil, bring down gas and oil prices, keep our soldiers from fighting abroad in unstable regions, and spur economic development by re-starting the American auto manufacturing industry that is so critical to Western New York.”