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McNerney Takes Steps to Address High Gas Prices

Jun 26, 2008
Press Release


June 26, 2008

Washington, D.C. – As the price of a gallon of regular remains firmly above $4.50 all across the 11th District, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11) today supported a piece of legislation that addresses a major factor contributing to the high price of gas as well as a measure to alleviate some effects of gas prices.

“All across our region gas is $4.50 a gallon or higher and we are all feeling the pinch,” said Rep. McNerney.  “Today I voted to help families and businesses in our region by cracking down on rampant crude oil speculation, which artificially drives up the cost of a barrel of oil, and addressing rising costs for transit agencies since so many people have turned to public transit as an alternative to driving.”

The bills the House considered and passed today are:

H.R. 6377, Energy Markets Emergency Act

Passed 322 to 98.

Speculators can artificially drive up the cost of crude oil by trading in futures markets not overseen by U.S. regulators.  This bill directs the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the regulatory body that oversees the trading of contracts for future deliveries of commodities – including crude oil, full authority and potent emergency tools to curtail excessive speculation and other practices distorting the energy market

Rampant speculation is recognized as one of the driving forces behind the spike in gas prices.  Experts estimate that cost of a barrel of oil could be anywhere from 25 to 100 percent more than the actual cost of extracting it from the ground.  Even OPEC said recently that a barrel of crude oil should cost about $70.  The actual cost today is over $130 a barrel.

H.R. 6052, Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act

Passed 402 to 19.

The bill gives $1.7 billion in grants to mass transit authorities to reduce help public transit lower fares, expand transit services and account for escalating operating costs as more and more California turn to transit as an alternative.

The ACE Train, the commuter rail service that runs between Stockton and San Jose, saw a 13.9 percent increase in ridership in the first quarter of 2008 – one of six commuter rail systems nationwide to see a double digit increase.  And weekday BART ridership is up by 25,000 riders on average compared to the same time last year.

Mass transit systems are strained by having to pay the same record fuel prices as consumers, as well as meeting increased ridership, at a time when a slowing economy means lower tax receipts and less money for transit.