Federal News Service
July 7, 2004 Wednesday
HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE ENERGY POLICY, NATURAL RESOURCES AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: DRIVING DOWN THE COSTS OF FILLING UP
CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE DOUG OSE (R-CA)
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REP. OSE: I thank the gentleman. I'm pleased to recognize the representative from the country music capital of the country, Mr. Cooper.
REP. COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your calling this hearing. Certainly gasoline prices are among the most visible and most painful of consumer price increases that we face. I think the elephant in the room that has not been mentioned enough in regard to the many reasons that gas prices can go up or down-the elephant in the room is the terrific uncertainty we face in the Middle East, the region of the world that's blessed with the greatest reserves of oil.
If you look at the country with the number one amount of reserves it would be Saudi Arabia, which is one of the most dangerous countries in the world today for an American to live and work as a result of increased terrorism in the last months and years. If you look at the country with the number two amount of oil reserves it would be Iraq, where a war is currently being fought. So there are a myriad of factors that can increase or decrease gasoline prices. But if you look at geopolitical uncertainty, certainly this is a period of extreme concern in the region with the greatest number of oil reserves.
Mr. Chairman, I have come to this meeting greatly prejudiced because one of my friends and colleagues from the Vanderbilt Business School faculty happens to be chief economist of the FTC. And while he and I don't agree on many issues, we do agree on the need for serious academic work done on issues of great national concern. So I come to this hearing with some worries that the GAO report does not live up to those high standards. But I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses today and judging for myself, for example, whether those results can in fact be duplicated.
But if you take a great, long list of reasons that gas prices can go up or down, oil company mergers to me don't seem to be at the top of that list. Perhaps they are, but when I worked as a businessman a little bit in the retail gasoline industry I noticed that convenience store sales of snacks have a lot more to do with retail success in the marketplace than do gasoline prices, cause the gasoline market seems to be a little bit more efficient than the Snickers market or the other junk food items that we all love to buy when we go to the store. But I appreciate your holding this hearing, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to seeing if we can get some information that's useful for the American consumer. Thank you.
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