|Higgins Opposes Energy Conference Report Which Fails to Address High Price of Oil and Gas|
|October 7, 2005|
Bad Bill Passed by Two Votes; Higgins Supports Provision to Help Western New York by Providing Relief on Gas Prices and Gas and Home Heating Oil
Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) voted against H.R. 3893, the Energy Conference Report, which did nothing to address the skyrocketing price of oil and gas. Higgins supported a provision, defeated by Republicans in the House, which would have provided much needed relief on gas and home heating oil.
“Too many Western New Yorkers face huge, unaffordable prices at the pump, and as winter approaches, the cost of home heating becomes a harsher, unaffordable reality,” said Congressman Higgins. “This bill did nothing to help Western New Yorkers—it had nothing to do with lowering gas or home heating prices and putting money back in consumer pockets, instead it just took good care of the same special interests that are profiting from the high gas prices. It is unfortunate that the Republicans in the House did not accept a provision to the bill which contained tough and effective anti-price gouging provisions that would have provided relief for gas and home heating oil prices, by cracking down on the companies that are cheating our families.”
There have been more than 7,000 complaints of price gouging to the Energy Department, and in some parts of the country, gasoline prices exceeded $6 per gallon on Labor Day weekend. Right now, gas prices are $2.92 cents a gallon, up nearly $1.00 from one year ago, and 30 cents higher than before the hurricanes. This is costing Western New York families hundreds of dollars extra a month.
Heading into winter, Higgins was concerned that this bill fails to cover natural gas and propane, even though natural gas prices are predicted to shoot up 71 percent in some regions, and natural gas is the main fuel for heating homes in some areas of the country. Western New York families using natural gas are expected to pay $611 - 1,568 more than last year and nearly $1,000 more than in the winter of 2001. Higgins supported a provision that would have given authority to the Federal Trade Commission to stop price gouging, not just for gasoline, diesel, and home heating oil, but also for natural gas and propane. The provision also would have provided relief to consumers facing skyrocketing home heating cost by expanding the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through fines from companies guilty of price-gouging; instead, the leadership in the House rewarded those very companies. Further, by deterring price-gouging, this provision would have provided relief to consumers, small businesses, and farmers paying record energy prices.