July 31, 2008

Idahoans' Stories On Gas Prices Come To The Floor Of U.S. Senate

Crapo says gas price crisis requires comprehensive action

Washington, DC - In extended remarks on the Senate floor, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo pressed Congress to respond boldly to the gas price crisis facing Americans. To highlight the personal suffering of Idahoans caused by high gasoline prices, Crapo made emails he has received from Idahoans about the price of gasoline a part of his remarks. Crapo says many Idahoans have made difficult choices to forgo food for their families, medicines, and other important purchases in order to pay for the fuel to drive to work.

"In early July, I asked my fellow Idahoans to tell me what the high gas prices meant in their lives," Crapo said. "Overnight, I had almost 600 responses. The total now is over 1,200 responses. The stories include individuals who cannot purchase their medicine. Their choice is food, medicine, or fuel. They include stories of small businesses that must lay off employees. I've placed each of those emails in the Congressional Record so that my colleagues can appreciate the magnitude and scope of the problem and the need to confront it forcefully."

In his remarks, Crapo noted how energy issues affect national security and how growing imports of oil lead to a direct loss of jobs and a weakening of the dollar. He said rural states like Idaho are facing cuts in airline services because of fuel costs. America has failed to diversify its energy portfolio, he said, and Congress is at the front of the line for blame.

"The main factor behind high gas prices is supply and demand, and Congress has failed to produce a rational energy policy that encourages increased domestic production," Crapo noted. "We have the opportunity to change that right now by taking action on several fronts-demanding more conservation and efficiency gains in energy usage, greater use of renewables and alternatives, and enhanced domestic production. Legislation is already available to accomplish those goals, but it is up to Congress to agree to pass such legislation."

Crapo noted China, whose economic growth is fueling much of the worldwide shortage of oil, imposes price controls on its domestic consumption of gasoline. China's demand for new oil has nearly doubled over the last five years. Crapo noted that many studies point to supply and demand issues as the main factor driving up oil prices. He said speculation and conservation actions alone won't tackle the issue as the nation needs to increase domestic oil supplies to provide a cushion for consumers while it moves aggressively toward alternatives fuels and conservation efforts.

"As less of our energy needs are met with our own resources, our nation becomes more vulnerable to geopolitical instability and oil market volatility. In turn, these factors expose us to runaway prices, unexpected price spikes, supply shortages, and all of their associated consequences," Crapo added. "It is relatively simple-produce our own oil as we move toward alternatives and renewables. That is what I have heard from Idahoans. That's what Congress needs to hear and act on. Now is the time."