The Gasoline Price Reduction Act of 2004 -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 16, 2004)
HON. MARK UDALL
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2004
Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 4545, the so-called "Gasoline Price Reduction Act of 2004."
My opposition is based both on grounds of the bill's content and the process by which it has been considered. I don't believe this bill is good policy, nor do I think it should have been brought up in a way that severely limited debate and completely eliminated the opportunity for the House to even consider any amendments.
The bill's title-gasoline price reduction-is more of a slogan than an accurate description of the measure. And like any good advertising slogan, it has a certain appeal. But it is not an example of truth in advertising.
I do believe that the bill's authors had the right goals in mind when drafting this bill. But reducing the "proliferation" of boutique fuels won't affect today's high gas prices. According to EPA, clean air protections add, at most, a nickel to the price of a gallon of gasoline. There are many other factors that can affect supply and price, such as merger activity, refinery shutdowns, and pipeline capacity. Besides, gas prices have risen across the nation, not just in states with cleaner fuel requirements.
The bill we are considering today would amend the Clean Air Act by allowing the EPA and the Department of Energy to grant waivers to states, if there is a fuel shortage, to use fuel or fuel additives, which might contribute to air pollution. The bill would give the EPA Administrator authority to waive cleaner-burning gasoline or diesel requirements indefinitely if there is a "significant fuel supply disruption," a term that the bill does not define.
I am concerned that this bill would give EPA limitless authority to streamline current regulations. In addition, since the bill calls for the EPA Administrator merely to deem a waiver "necessary," I am concerned that EPA's decision might not be subject to judicial review, or that any review would be very limited.
Finally, this bill appears to put considerations of price before those of health. It contains no obligation to mitigate or make up for the excess air pollution that may occur over the waiver period.
I understand that the more than 100 different fuel blends across the country have periodically resulted in regional price spikes, which is something we should try to address. A leading voice on energy in the other body has pressed for action from the Administration using legal authorities that the President already has. He has called first for an in-depth study to analyze the impact that federal, state, and local boutique fuels programs have on our nation's gasoline marketplace and to come up with specific recommendations for action.
I think the House should be considering mandating such a study-not passing legislation that won't address gas prices and that gives EPA unlimited authority that could be used to weaken important clean air protections. But because no amendments are permitted, that proposal cannot even be considered in connection with this bill. So, I cannot support it.