May 22, 2007
LANSING - With gas prices in Michigan reaching record highs, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today submitted testimony to Congress on the escalating cost and volatility of gas prices across the nation. Granholm also joined other Democratic governors in asking President Bush to produce legislation that would define gas price gouging and press oil companies to resolve refinery capacity issues affecting the high price of gasoline.
Granholm was invited to testify by House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak (D-Mich) because of her experience battling artificially high gas prices as governor and as attorney general. The governor's testimony was presented by Stanley Pruss, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, who has worked closely with the governor on gasoline price gouging issues.
"The bottom line is simply this: Americans today are being compelled to transfer the contents of their wallets to big oil," Granholm wrote in her testimony. Granholm cited a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that said while oil companies have been engaged in mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures that have yielded record profits, consumers have suffered with continually escalating prices. Currently, the average price for gasoline in Michigan is $3.43 per gallon, a record high. The previous record was set last August at an average of $3.09 per gallon.
"The failure of the Bush Administration and past Congresses to curb the abuses of the existing unregulated environment has wrought great harm on the American consumer, imposing additional economic hardships while enriching corporate interests with unprecedented and unconscionable excess profits," Granholm added. "The time for effective federal action is long overdue."
The letter to President Bush Granholm cosigned with 16 Democratic governors asks for his assistance to press oil companies to invest their profits in fixing refinery capacity issues, a key problem that affects the price of gas during the summer driving season. The governors also asked the president to work with Congress to produce federal legislation that would define gas price gouging and prosecution of antitrust and commodities violations.
Congressman Stupak is the sponsor of legislation that would define gas price gouging and make it a federal crime. Granholm supports this legislation and said, "Grossly excessive profits resulting from rampant, unchecked market practices must be brought under control."
Last week, Granholm joined a bipartisan group of 21 governors in a letter to the congressional leaders of both parties requesting that the U.S. Congress initiate a bipartisan inquiry into rising gas prices. The letter called into question the validity of current prices, considering the lack of influential geo-political events and weather crises.
This is the latest step in Governor Granholm's efforts to protect Michigan consumers at the pump. Granholm has:
- worked with Marathon Oil to get the company to lower their gas prices by 40 cents after Hurricane Katrina;
- significantly increased the penalties for gas gougers, while doubling the number of state inspectors looking for gas gouging;
- signed legislation providing incentives to service stations that install ethanol and biodiesel pumps to help make Michigan and the nation independent of foreign oil; and,
- invested in alternative energy through the 21st Century Jobs Fund to make Michigan a leader in this emerging industry.
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