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Lalor's Bold and Comprehensive Plan for Gas Prices

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Lalor's Bold and Comprehensive Plan for Gas Prices

American families are being crushed by ever increasing gas prices. Consumers are struggling to balance their day-to-day living expenses in the face of these increases. While American families stretch their budgets to afford gas and other necessities, Congress is idle. Where are our leaders in Congress? Where is the Hudson Valley's Rep. John Hall?

As a nation, we had a unique opportunity in September 2001 to declare our goal of achieving energy independence. But the opportunity was squandered. Now, I believe voters must demand that Washington join in a national commitment to achieving energy independence as a critical element of national security and economic policy.

As gas prices in the Hudson Valley reach $4 per gallon, it is clear that something has to change. My campaign has developed a comprehensive 5 point plan to deal with escalating fuel prices in both the near-term and the long-term.

Lalor's Comprehensive 5 Point Plan To Deal With Gas Prices

1. Drill More

2. Refine More

3. Abolish All Gas Taxes

4. Regulate Less

5. Encourage innovation in the private sector

1. Drill More:

ANWR: We can begin to end our dependence on foreign oil and dramatically reduce the cost of oil by drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) located in Alaska. Opening ANWR to drilling would have a dramatic impact on gas prices, but less than 2000 acres of the over 1.5 million acres of ANWR would be affected by drilling. The mere announcement that we are going to begin drilling in ANWR would drive oil prices down. Once drilling operations begin putting more supply into the market, the prices will decrease further.

Gulf Coast: The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) contains enough oil to replace Middle Eastern oil for sixty years according to the U.S. Mineral Management Services. Yet the federal government allows 80% of the OCS to go unexplored. Studies show that the artificial reefs created by offshore rigs and platforms would benefit marine life. Amazingly, China, with the permission of Cuba, has begun drilling off the coast of Key West, Florida. Still, our leaders in Washington, John Hall among them, bemoan high gas prices but refuse to drill off our own coasts while an economic competitor gobbles up oil reserves. As with drilling in ANWR, by simply announcing that we are going to drill more of the OCS we can reduce oil prices.

2. Refine More

A lack of refining capacity keeps oil prices unnecessarily high. Still the U.S. has not built a new refinery in more than 30 years. In fact, the number of refineries has been cut dramatically over the past three decades. Increased oil supply not accompanied by increased refining capacity is almost useless. To increase refining capacity, the federal government must encourage, through tax and regulatory policy, the construction of new refineries. Refineries could be built on closed military sites to avoid any negative impact on local communities while also creating jobs and boosting local economies.

3. Abolish All Gas Taxes

Gas is the lifeblood of our economy, yet all levels of government levy a tax on it directly. Indirectly, gas taxes increase the cost of consumer goods because producers pass the inflated fuel costs on to consumers. Because of the overwhelming importance of gasoline to our economy, the federal gas tax should be abolished and local and state governments should be forbidden from taxing gas. To make up for the lost revenue, Congress should end the practice of earmarks, exercise greater oversight of the budgets of federal agencies and end biofeul subsidies which have had the unintended affect of forcing gas prices to go higher. Moreover, the economic growth encouraged by the tax cut will ensure that the lost revenue will be replaced through other streams. A temporary suspension of gas taxes is only a short-term solution. The resumption of the tax at the end of the suspension period will feel like a dramatic tax increase to consumers. A permanent ban on gas taxes will give consumers confidence in their economic futures, driving economic growth.

4. Regulate Less

According to the Government Accounting Office (GAO) we have more than 40 different blends of gasoline in the U.S. Different states mandate that each gallon of gas sold have a different percentage of biofeul. Producing such a wide variety of gasoline products makes the production and transportation of gasoline less efficient and more expensive. If we got rid of even some of the regulations that require differing blends we could make production more efficient and drive down the price we pay at the pump.

5. Encourage innovation in the private sector

I believe that with the right combination of technology, innovation, and government incentives, we can achieve energy independence. I support the creation of large financial prizes to be awarded by the federal government and private foundations to companies and individuals who meet important milestones in achieving America's energy goals. Last month, at the New York Auto Show at the Javits Center, the X Prize Foundation offered $10 million to the teams that can produce "the most production-ready vehicles that get 100 miles per gallon or more. Entrepreneurs are more likely to solve America's energy and environmental problems than bureaucrats in Washington.

Rising gas prices are a heavy burden on the economy. But, we have the opportunity to avert a potential long-term disaster. With determined leadership we can make the changes in energy policy that will drive America's economy through the 21st century. Four dollars per gallon gas will be remembered as a signpost on the road to energy independence, rather than a serious blow to the American economy if Washington will adopt a bold and comprehensive reform plan.


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