The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader, House of Representative
H-204, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi,
Over the past several weeks, the price of gas in Rhode Island has been steadily increasing, much like gas prices all across the country. And just last week, according to the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline surpassed the $4.00 mark. This news underscores the concerns voiced by hundreds of men, women, and families throughout Rhode Island -- they can no longer afford the price of gasoline and urgent help is needed.
For a state that continues to struggle with high unemployment and the enduring impact of the Great Recession, the steadily rising cost of gasoline places many hard working families in financial peril. Until our nation makes the necessary and sustained investments in clean-energy technology that will once and for all end our dependence on foreign energy imports and big oil, we will continue to be held at the mercy of Wall Street speculators artificially driving up fuel prices. However, in order to protect the mobility of workers and goods that bolster our economic recovery, Congress must act now to rein in the costs of gasoline in the near-term.
I am encouraged by recent indications that Congress may finally act to close tax loopholes for the oil companies enjoying record profits while consumers are left to feel the pain at the pump. However, more immediate action is needed to help the many Rhode Islanders and Americans who cannot afford another financial burden during these challenging times.
There are two measures that have been introduced in the House of Representatives, which I have co-sponsored, that will provide the immediate relief Americans need and deserve now. H.R. 1017, the Enhanced Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) Act, introduced by Ranking Member Markey would, in part, direct the Department of Energy to release at least 30 million barrels of oil from the SPR in order to provide immediate, short term relief from the rising cost of gasoline. In addition, H.R. 964, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, introduced by Representative Timothy Bishop, would prevent oil companies from taking unfair advantage of anomalies in the market by imposing excessive price increases.
These are just two of a number of measures that have been introduced in the House of Representatives to provide immediate relief to consumers from the rising price of gasoline that threatens our economy and the well-being of hard-working, middle class Americans throughout the country. I strongly urge you to take all necessary action to ensure that these urgent measures are brought to a vote in the House. This body will soon have before it three measures to promote offshore drilling, which experts indicate will have no immediate or near-term impact on the price of gas at the pump. It should instead be a priority of Congress to enact common sense consumer safeguards and price relief now.
I thank you for your immediate attention to this matter of utmost importance to our economy and millions of hard-working Americans.
David N. Cicilline
Member of Congress