Helping American Consumers & Fighting for Energy Independence
Recently, Californians have been hit by the highest gas prices ever, facing a record average high of $4.66 a gallon in the State. I support emergency steps to relieve consumers' pain at the pump, starting with temporarily relaxing restrictions so that California can increase the supply of available fuel, including by allowing refineries to switch to winter-blend gasoline at an earlier date.
I also support an immediate investigation into the causes of this unprecedented price spike affecting consumers. Although gas prices are projected to fall in the coming weeks, the impacts on consumers and businesses from this increase are cause for serious scrutiny. In keeping with past efforts to crack down on price manipulation in the energy markets, I believe the Federal Trade Commission must investigate and enforce any illegal price manipulation activities.
As your Representative in Congress, I am working hard to promote a range of short and long term solutions to this problem. However, the truth is that there is no silver-bullet solution to high gas prices. The reality is that America is still addicted to oil, and the longer we stay hooked on this volatile resource, the more we will continue to pay for it.
Some believe that there is not enough oil drilling taking place and that more drilling will solve this problem. But the facts are that the United States is producing more oil than it has in the past 8 years; the number of U.S. oil drilling rigs has quadrupled over the past 3 years; and there are now more U.S. oil and gas drilling rigs at work than the rest of the world combined.
Meanwhile, Big Oil companies are making record profits while they continue to enjoy $4 billion a year in tax breaks, which I do not believe they need. Wall Street speculators are using market fears to jack up the price of oil by as much as 22%, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Congress needs to repeal wasteful tax breaks and put tough limits on excessive speculation to rein in these price spikes..
These are just some of the steps we need to take to help save consumers money and accelerate America’s drive toward real energy independence.
- End Excessive Oil Speculation on Wall Street
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is charged with policing fraud by stock traders and hedge funds on Wall Street. It estimates that speculation is contributing as much as 22% to the record spike in the price of a barrel of oil. The Wall Street Reform Act that I helped pass as a member of the House Financial Services Committee required the CFTC to set new limits on the amount of speculation allowed on oil commodities.
In 2011, I wrote the CFTC to call on the agency to speed up investigation and enforcement of these new limits. Predictably, Wall Street is now lobbying against these rules and is suing the CFTC to block them. I am fighting in Congress to uphold these rules and put the interests of consumers ahead of Wall Street’s status quo.
- End Tax Breaks for Big Oil Companies
The five biggest oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell – have made more than half a trillion dollars in profits over the past five years and more than a trillion dollars since 2001. In 2011, these oil companies earned a record-breaking $137 billion – a 75 percent increase from 2010 – despite producing 4% less oil than they did the year before. Big Oil spent $146 million lobbying Congress last year and $18 million on federal campaign contributions.
Americans are right to be concerned that these special interests are gaining undue influence over Congress. The last thing oil companies want is for Congress to take away the subsidies and tax breaks they receive as they continue to benefit from record profits. I believe it is time for that to change, and that is why I support repealing these tax breaks, including an $11.6 billion deduction on income and a $13.9 billion write-off on drilling costs. Ending these provisions would save the United States $40 billion over 10 years.
- Support American Conservation, Innovation and Clean Energy
You may not have heard it lately, but the good news is that the United States is making real progress on the path toward energy self-sufficiency. For the first time since 1949, the United States has become a net exporter of oil products. With less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves, however, it is imperative that we reduce our demand for oil and move to develop alternative sources of energy.
I strongly support the Administration’s efforts to increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for American cars and light trucks – these new mileage standards, based in part on the standards we have set in California, will reduce U.S. oil consumption by 2 million barrels of oil a day by 2025 and save consumers from $3,000-$5,000 over the life of new fuel efficient vehicles.
We must also encourage businesses to Make It in America again. American manufacturing has everything to gain from the investments we make in clean energy. Today, clean energy is the fastest growing industry in the United States and creates three times as many jobs as fossil fuels. Developing new clean energy sources like wind and solar could support 20 million jobs by 2030 and raise trillions of dollars in revenue, which would help Americans transition to clean energy and pay down our debt.