MARC MORANO (202) 224-5762  

MATT DEMPSEY (202) 224-9797


 Inhofe Continues Fight to Bring Down Gas Prices  


WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, criticized the Democrats’ Consumer First Energy Act as a “No” Energy bill in floor remarks today. Senator Inhofe voted against cloture on the bill yesterday.  

“The simple fact remains that until we explore and develop domestic energy resources and increase domestic refining capacity, the cost of gas at the pump will increase,” Senator Inhofe said.

“As Oklahomans and Americans face $4 per-gallon gas prices, now is not the time for politics as usual – now is the time for common sense solutions. The Democrats’ bill increases taxes by $17 billion on America’s oil and gas producers and increases government bureaucracy.  

“The Democrats have introduced an energy bill which contains no energy. The Democrats’ bill does nothing to increase access to America’s extensive oil and natural gas reserves, does nothing for the promotion of nuclear energy, does nothing to increase refinery capacity, does nothing for electricity generation or transmission, and does nothing for the utilization of clean coal. 

“As the price of gas at the pump continues to go up, Democrats are proposing yet another energy tax. Their attempted ‘solution’ to our energy challenges is to raise taxes again and further harm American families.” 

Additional Inhofe Speech Excerpts:  

“Federal law already bans companies from colluding to fix prices and the federal government currently has all the legal tools necessary to address price gouging.  According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), ‘At least 30 states... have laws that prohibit gouging, excessive price increases, or unconscionable pricing.  (LINK) Other states may also exercise authority under general deceptive trade practice laws depending on the nature of the state law and the specific circumstances in which price increases occur.’ So knowing what we do about price gouging, this provision is repetitive, unnecessary, and potentially counterproductive.  Most importantly, however, it fails to do anything to address our record-high gas prices.   

“The other major component of the Democrats’ Energy Bill reinstates the Windfall Profits Tax (WPT).  Democrats want to impose a Windfall Profits Tax despite the fact that we had this same tax almost 30 years ago and the results were disastrous. In 1980, under President Jimmy Carter, Congress imposed an excise levy on domestic oil production called the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax.  According to a 1990 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), the results of Carter’s Windfalls Profits Tax were very counterproductive: ‘The WPT reduced domestic oil production between 3 and 6 percent, and increased oil imports from between 8 and 16 percent... This made the U.S. more dependent upon imported oil.’ Looking back to 1980, we now know what a Windfall Profits Tax will do.  It will decrease domestic production and increase America’s oil imports – the exact opposite of what we need to do. For American jobs, for the international competitiveness of American companies, and for consumers at the pump, Congress must reject the Democrats’ attempts to increase taxes and implement back door price controls. 

“Oil and gas exploration and production are currently prohibited on 85 percent of America’s offshore waters. Among industrialized nations with shorelines, the United States is the only one not actively seeking new offshore oil and gas deposits. Canada allows offshore drilling in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Great Lakes.  Additionally, Cuba is also looking to expand drilling which could occur within 45 miles of parts of Florida and with technology that is much less environmentally sound than that used by American companies. Exploration and production activities are currently prohibited in the Pacific and Atlantic regions of the Outer Continental Shelf, which hold an estimated 14 billion barrels of oil and 55 trillion cubic feet of gas.  This is equivalent to more than 25 years’ worth of imports from Saudi Arabia. If President Clinton hadn’t vetoed legislation allowing environmentally sensitive exploration on the Coastal Plain of ANWR 10 years ago, today we would have 1 million additional barrels of oil a day coming from ANWR, which would mean lower gas prices for consumers and more energy security right now. ANWR is estimated to contain 10 billion barrels of oil – about 15 years worth of imports from Saudi Arabia.” 

Background:  Last month, Senator Inhofe joined Senator Domenici to introduce S. 2958, the American Energy Production Act of 2008.  This legislation will address America’s soaring gas prices by focusing on common sense measures that will increase production of oil and gas in America.  By expanding production offshore and in Alaska, and removing obstacles to domestic production in the West, this bill will help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil. 

Additionally, in each of the past two Congresses, Senator Inhofe introduced legislation to improve and streamline the permitting process for the expansion of existing and new refineries. The Gas PRICE Act is designed to ease America’s soaring gas prices, address true energy independence, and increase refinery capacity. The Gas Price Act would improve the permitting process for the expansion of existing and construction of new domestic fuels facilities, as well as encourage and fund the development of future fuels, which includes coal-to-liquids and cellulosic biomass ethanol. In addition, the Act would provide for a more stable and certain regulatory environment, and it would have numerous economic benefits, including locating refineries in distressed communities. The legislation would have increased domestic refining capacity, one of the major hurdles to bringing down the price at the pump. When this legislation was offered as an amendment to the Energy Bill last year, it failed 43-52 without a single Democratic member voting for the amendment. 

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