United States House of Representatives
Statement Introducing the Affordable Gas Price Act
May 21, 2009
Madam Speaker, I rise to introduce the Affordable Gas Price Act. This legislation reduces gas prices by reforming government policies that artificially inflate the price of gas. While the price of gas has not yet reached the record levels of last year, over the last two months the average price of gas has risen approximately 16%. In some areas, the price of gas is approaching $3.00 per gallon. There is thus a real possibility that the American people while soon by once again hard hit by skyrocketing gas prices.
High gas prices threaten our fragile economy and diminishes the quality of life for all Americans. One industry that is particularly hard hit is the trucking industry. The effects of high gas prices on the trucking industry will be reflected in increased costs for numerous consumer goods, thus further harming American consumers.
Unfortunately, many proposals to address the problem of higher energy prices involve increasing government interference in the market through policies such as price controls. These big government solutions will, at best, prove ineffective and, at worst, bring back the fuel shortages and gas lines of the seventies.
Instead of expanding government, Congress should repeal federal laws and policies that raise the price of gas, either directly through taxes or indirectly though regulations that discourage the development of new fuel sources. This is why my legislation repeals the federal moratorium on offshore drilling and allows oil exploration in the ANWR reserve in Alaska. My bill also ensures that the National Environmental Policy Act’s environmental impact statement requirement will no longer be used as a tool to force refiners to waste valuable time and capital on nuisance litigation. The Affordable Gas Price Act also provides tax incentives to encourage investment in new refineries.
Federal fuel taxes are a major part of gasoline’s cost. The Affordable Gas Price Act suspends the federal gasoline tax any time the average gas prices exceeds $3.00 per gallon. During the suspension, the federal government will have a legal responsibility to ensure the federal highway trust fund remains funded. My bill also raises the amount of mileage reimbursement not subject to taxes, and, during times of high oil prices, provides the same mileage reimbursement benefit to charity and medical organizations as provided to businesses.
Misguided and outdated trade policies are also artificially raising the price of gas. For instance, even though Russia and Kazakhstan allow their citizens the right and opportunity to emigrate, they are still subject to Jackson-Vanik sanctions, even though Jackson-Vanik was a reaction to the Soviet Union’s highly restrictive emigration policy. Eliminating Jackson-Vankik’s threat of trade-restricting sanctions would increase the United States’ access to oil supplies from non-Arab countries. Thus, my bill terminates the application of title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 to Russia and Khazaskin, allowing Americans to enjoy the benefits of free trade with these oil-producing nations.