Letter to President of the United States George W. Bush
May 15, 2006
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The skyrocketing price of gas poses a crisis not only to commuters going to work, especially in rural areas, but family farmers, small businesses, truckers, airlines, and indeed our entire economy. Recently, oil prices topped $72 a barrel -- higher than during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, even though oil inventories in the U.S. reached the highest level in eight years. In fact, the last time we saw oil inventories this high, the price of oil plunged below $11 a barrel. There is no good reason for gas prices to be this high, especially when oil companies continue to receive record-breaking profits, OPEC continues to receive increased revenue, and oil executives continue to receive obscene levels of compensation.
Therefore, we urge you to convene an Emergency Energy Summit with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, leaders in the oil industry and consumer advocates to implement solutions which will immediately lower the price of gas at the pump, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and prohibit price gouging. Without real leadership at the top, there is no question but that oil executives will continue to ignore the needs of ordinary Americans while they reap record-breaking profits.
Among other things, this summit should focus on the following:
1. Short-term solutions to immediately lower oil prices. Steps to be taken could include the establishment of a windfall profits tax on oil companies; temporary price caps to prohibit market manipulation; releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve; making it a federal crime for oil companies to engage in price-gouging activities; and filing a trade complaint with the WTO against OPEC for illegally colluding to raise oil prices.
2. Reducing the obscene levels of CEO compensation in the oil industry. Reports of Lee R. Raymond, the CEO of Exxon-Mobil, receiving a retirement package of at least $398 million at a time when consumers are being squeezed at the pump is nothing less than highway robbery. At the very least, all shareholders should be allowed to approve or reject executive compensation packages.
3. Revoke royalty relief giveaways to oil companies for drilling on public lands. According to the Department of Interior's budget, the government will allow oil and gas companies to drill approximately $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas on publicly owned lands over the next five years without paying a single dime in royalties to the federal government. This is unacceptable. At a time when gas prices are skyrocketing, oil and gas companies should be paying their fair share of royalties to the American taxpayer.
4. Rescind tax breaks and corporate welfare to oil and gas companies. At a time when gas prices are soaring, it is unconscionable that big oil and gas companies are projected to receive over $22 billion in tax subsidies and corporate welfare over the next decade courtesy of the American taxpayer. Big oil companies making the largest profits in the history of the world do not need or deserve corporate welfare from the federal government.
5. Reduce our dependence on fossil fuel through investments in renewable energy and energy conservation. By moving toward energy conservation and investing in renewable and alternative energy sources such as biofuels, hydrogen fuel cells, ethanol, solar and wind we can eliminate our reliance on Middle East oil by 2020, and move away from polluting fossil fuels in general. For example, by increasing CAFE standards for cars to 45 miles per gallon and SUVs and light trucks to 34 miles per gallon over the next decade we could save consumers about $80 billion per year at the pump, 3 billion gallons of oil a year, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1.5 trillion pounds a year.
Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to these matters. Clearly, if we are going to prevent severe economic hardship for millions of Americans, we must act expeditiously.
Reps. Sanders, DeFazio, Tierney, Corrine Brown, Owens, George Miller, Kilpatrick, Conyers, Wexler, Barbara Lee, Visclosky, Oberstar, Hinchey, Olver, Baldwin, Linda Sanchez, Gutierrez, Lowey, John Lewis, Norton, Capuano, Holt, Pallone, Millender-McDonald, Inslee, Alcee Hastings, Lantos, Grijalva, Maloney, Farr, Honda, McGovern, McCollum, Filner, Frank, Kucinich, McDermott, Payne, Serrano, Velazquez, Waters, Waxman, Woolsey, Delahunt, Nadler, Jackson, Jr., Tubbs-Jones and Herseth, Abercrombie, Danny Davis, Fattah, Rush, and Solis.