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Consumers Will Pay the Price for the Bush Administration's Shortsighted Energy Policies
Anna Aurilio
U.S. PIRG

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on April 5 that retail gasoline prices across the nation averaged $1.78 per gallon - surpassing the record set last August of $1.747.

Despite the environmental, consumer, and economic problems with oil dependence, the Bush Administration is allowing big oil to drive America's energy policy toward greater consumption and higher prices. The Bush-Cheney energy plan won't make the U.S. less dependent on oil and other fossil fuels, won't reduce the price of a gallon of gas, and won't protect consumers from future price spikes. Their solution to the problem - to pass the disastrous energy bill rejected by the Senate in November- would actually increase gasoline prices and do nothing to protect consumers. Their proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would destroy a pristine wilderness area for six months worth of oil that wouldn't reach consumers for ten years.

The best way to protect consumers from high gasoline prices is by regulating the oil industry and reducing demand. The Bush-Cheney energy plan does not expand the current antitrust laws to cover this blatant price manipulation, so corporations will continue to gouge consumers at the gas pump. Increasing auto fuel economy to conserve oil is a strategy with a proven track record, but the Bush Administration has steadfastly opposed requiring the auto industry to do its part and use existing technology to significantly increase miles per gallon in our cars and trucks.

At a time when the oil industry is laughing all the way to the bank, the last thing Congress should do is hand out billions in new tax breaks. Unfortunately, Senator Frist has added the "Energy Tax Incentives Act" to corporate tax legislation pending on the Senate floor. There is no evidence that $6.5 billion in new and expanded tax breaks will do anything but pad the oil and gas industry's bottom line. The Senate should reject these outrageous handouts.

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