Dear Secretary Abraham:
The American economy continues to show troubling signs of fundamental weakness. Consumer confidence is at its lowest in nearly a decade. The unemployment rate climbed in February as more than 300,000 Americans lost their jobs. The federal deficit is reaching record levels and several states are facing fiscal emergencies. Families and businesses are postponing investments as the prospect of war looms. In addition to all these problems, families and businesses are now paying record-high prices at the gas pump.
Retail gasoline prices climbed again this Monday by 2.6 cents per gallon to a near-record of $1.71 per gallon nationally. In my home state of Massachusetts, the average price of $1.68 is approaching the state record. Other parts of the country, from the West Coast to the Midwest to the South, are also experiencing higher prices.
I ask that the Department of Energy take all appropriate action to ensure that gasoline prices are fair and reasonable. Among these actions, I urge the Administration to call upon the leaders of energy companies, many of which are now generating higher profits because of the price spike, to work with the Administration, states, consumer advocates and others to lower prices. This is especially important as the nation prepares for possible military action in the Persian Gulf.
I also ask that you investigate the industry to ensure that these surging prices are not the result of any anticompetitive practices in regional or national markets. Finally, the Administration should work with all appropriate parties to develop and present a plan to respond to projections that gasoline prices may rise as high as $3 per gallon in the coming months.
Mr. Secretary, the economy has been in a steady decline over the past two years. I hope that the Administration will take action to mitigate rising gasoline prices and put money back in the pockets of working families and get the economy back on its feet. I appreciate your attention to my request.
John F. Kerry