Group Offers Drivers Opportunity to Send ‘Dose of Reality’ to Lawmakers and White House and Demand Action Now, Not Next Year
Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog, using an innovative Web-based form, today launched a nationwide campaign to help drivers get the attention of Washington’s elected officials, who rarely have to use their own money at the gas pump. With gasoline prices at or within a penny of their all-time highs, families are at the breaking point, while elected officials are in a bubble until they hear from constituents.
A consumer letter, available online at OilWatchdog.org and Consumerwatchdog.org, tells elected officials what each driver paid for the last fill-up, the price per gallon paid, and the family’s estimated monthly fuel bill. It lets lawmakers and the White House know that $4.00 and $5.00 fuel prices are unbearable. It demands action right now, to control oil market speculation and cut pump prices. Drivers can send Washington this dose of reality just by filling in a simple form that tells elected officials what the real cost of fuel is doing to individual American families. (See the letter below or online.)
"Drivers know instinctively that all the recent political talk about drilling off the California coast and the Florida coast will line the pockets of oil companies, trash our coastlines and have negligible effect on gasoline prices,” said Judy Dugan, research director of Consumer Watchdog. “What drivers need is immediate relief, along with longer-term energy alternatives to petroleum. Our elected officials rarely have to hand over $80 of their own salaries at a gas station, and they need to hear from people feeling the pain at the pump.”
The nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights) said that the most effective immediate actions against oil and gasoline prices are:
– Closing the Enron Loophole in commodity trading regulation. A regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin) would help stop speculative oil pricing. The huge omnibus bill was returned to Congress to fix an error in the version that president Bush vetoed last month. Now the repaired bill has to be passed by the House and Senate again, Bush has vowed to veto it again, and then the House and Senate must override the veto, wasting yet more time. (See more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment here.) (See why the bill is not yet law here.)
– Increase in margin funds that traders must put up in energy markets to help suppress speculation. Currently, traders only have to put up 5% to 7% of the worth of the purchase, instead of the 50% required on stock trading. This makes it cheap to speculate.
– Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in production. Only government regulation to control the supply of gasoline, nationally and regionally, will keep supplies adequate to control prices.
“The ‘Send Your Gasoline Bill to Congress’ campaign will let lawmakers know that drivers aren’t duped by doubletalk about ‘market forces’ or supply and demand,” said Dugan. “They won’t be satisfied with declarations that there are no short-term fixes for gasoline at over $4.00 and headed for $5.00. The problem is a lack of political will to fix broken, uncompetitive markets, and too many friends of oil in Washington.”
Gasoline prices were above $4.07 a gallon on average nationally today, less than a penny from the $4.08 record, and California’s average was a new record, $4.61, with some stations at or near $5.00.
Dear (President Bush, Senator, Representative, by zip code):
Here’s what I paid for my last fill-up: $85.62
This is where I bought it: Conoco Station, Mars
And this is my unbearable monthly fuel bill: $400
My family can’t stand these outrageous gas prices much longer. We want you to do something about it.
Please don’t tell me you can’t, or that it’s the way the free market works. You can regulate energy trading markets. You can regulate refineries, and demand that they increase the fuel supply on hand. You can take back the subsidies we taxpayers are giving to Exxon, Chevron and friends, then use these billions to expand renewable energy, build the public transportation we lack and cut our petroleum dependence.
You have to prove that you’re listening to us, not the oil companies and the hedge fund traders.
We have cut back on using gas, but can’t put off buying it altogether, like we can with a car or a new couch. Fuel is as
necessary as electricity or running water. We must have cleaner energy that we can afford.
Do something now. We can’t wait until next year, or 10 years from now, for affordable fuel or for real action against global warming.
Name, Address, Zip Code
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