A new report by the Energy Information Administration said today that gasoline prices could top $4 a gallon this summer, with prices expected to average $3.54 over the summer months, and a peak, monthly-average of more than $3.60 in June. The EIA numbers for diesel are even higher, with a predicted average of $3.90 during March and April, and a summer average of $3.73, an increase of 88 cents over the 2007 summer average. At these prices, the average cost to fill up a 300-gallon tank in a typical long-haul tractor trailer would reach $1170.
"This forecast tells American families they shouldn't expect relief from skyrocketing prices this summer," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. "The prospect of $4 gas is the result of the Bush administration's policy of tax breaks for Big Oil and tough breaks for American families."
As part of a three-point plan to alleviate the strain on consumers and move America towards renewable alternatives to oil, Chairman Markey called on the Bush administration to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at a 70,000 barrel a day clip to send a signal to oil speculators. He also called on the oil companies to increase their investments in renewable alternatives to oil and to drop their defense of billions in tax breaks.
"While the financial commitment that American families are being forced to make to drive theirs cars and heat their homes keeps rising every month, Big Oil's only commitment seems to be to opposing the renewable energy investment package that would provide American consumers with relief," said Markey. "Oil Companies like Exxon have consumers over a barrel and refuse to invest money in solutions that will reduce prices, help our economy and protect our planet."
Last week, Chairman Markey and the Select Committee held a hearing with top executives from the world's five largest oil companies, which brought in over $123 billion in profits last year and spent more than $50 billion on schemes to prop up their stock prices. The companies are currently defending $18 billion in tax breaks that Congress is trying to shift towards renewable energy.
At the April 1 hearing, Chairman Markey called on the companies to invest 10 percent of their profits into renewable energy alternatives to oil, noting that the bottom 20 percent of wage earning families in America are now spending 10 percent of their income on gasoline due to the current high prices. The five largest oil companies spent only about one percent of their profits on alternatives last year, with Exxon making more than $40 billion in profits, while spending just $10 million on research into alternatives to oil.