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Heated Fuel Price Rhetoric | Oil Watchdog

Heated Fuel Price Rhetoric

Wed, Apr 30, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Heated Fuel Price Rhetoric

    Heated Fuel Price Rhetoric

    Rising fuel prices are rattling a lot of people who want action, fast.

    Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has sent a letter to the Chairman of the
    Federal Trade Commission (FTC), asking for an investigation into the
    recent spike in diesel and jet fuel prices. A consumer group —
    Consumer Watchdog — is lambasting President Bush for not taking action
    to reduce prices. And, as we noted yesterday, House Speaker Nancy
    Pelosi (D-CA) is also knocking on the White House door seeking support
    for her strategy to bring prices down.

    In his April 23 letter to FTC chairman William E. Kovacic, Durbin
    raises alarms because, nationally, diesel prices are at an all time
    high while airlines are faced with a growing gap between the cost of
    crude oil and the price they pay for retail jet fuel. He writes:

    "Higher diesel and jet fuel prices are affecting millions of American
    consumers and businesses. When the market experiences unexplained
    spikes in energy prices, the American public deserves strong oversight
    and investigation from the FTC. I urge the FTC to undertake a
    comprehensive investigation of oil and gas markets to gain a better
    understanding of the current price spikes and widening gaps in diesel
    and jet fuels prices."

    And Judy Dugan of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog, based
    in Santa Monica, CA, complains in an article that Bush is doing less
    today than he did in 2006 to help address the problem. Dugan notes that
    in April 2006, the  national average pump price was a "mere’" $2.96 a
    gallon for regular and $2.88 for diesel, according to federal Energy
    Information Administration figures, and the White House treated it as
    an emergency.

    Today, with national gasoline prices over two weeks rising to more than
    $3.50 a gallon on average, the crisis is far worse. It "is busting
    family budgets and threatening a further downward spiral in the
    economy," yet the White House isn’t taking action, Dugan writes, and
    calls for some specific actions, including these:

    – Stop using taxpayer funds to add to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,
    which is still growing at a rate of 1.5 million gallons a month and is
    at near-record highs above 700 million gallons total. President Bush
    should also release oil from the reserve into the market, to help quell
    speculative price spikes. Dugan points out that Bush actually advocated
    quelling SPR purchases in 2006 when gasoline flirted with the $3 mark.

    – Close the Enron Loophole in commodity trading regulation. A
    regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne
    Feinstein and Carl Levin) would help stop speculative oil pricing.

    – Increase the amount of margin funds that traders must put up in energy markets to help suppress speculation.

    Clearly, the price of fuel is causing agitation. And once the
    connection is made more strongly between rising fuel costs — not just
    biofuels — and the growing food crisis, expect the fuel-price issue to
    take on an even greater urgency.

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