Congress and the Obama administration need to agree on a strategy to address high gasoline prices that are now causing economic hardships for families and businesses, according to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).
Cochran addressed energy costs and their economic impact on the nation at an Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee hearing late Wednesday. The hearing was held to review the FY2013 budget requests for the Department of Energy.
"I can't think of another higher priority on the list of challenges facing our domestic economy than the cost of gasoline in operating vehicles for families or businesses. I think we need to come together, the Congress and the executive branch, with a strategy that produces some results. I would just urge you to do more. Let's get on with it," Cochran told Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu.
Cochran expressed concern for those who rely on their vehicles for day-to-day living and do not have access to public or mass transit systems.
"Once you consider the consequences of ever-increasing energy costs, including gasoline and the operation of vehicles, we can understand that we're going to be in really serious trouble. A lot of people individually are suffering terribly right now; losses of income, downturns in economic activities, and some business becoming obsolete because they can't function as they used to when gasoline was more reasonably priced. We have to find a way to turn this problem around," Cochran said.
Chu responded that the Energy Department is "looking at every tool we have in order to try to bring down those prices." The Secretary also reviewed a series of initiatives undertaken by the Energy Department to address energy costs, and noted that a recent quadrennial report showed that more focus needed to be put on transportation energy technologies.
Cochran submitted a question to Chu asking for an opinion on options to focus more federal resources on technologies that have near-term economic and commercial potential, including biofuels and feedstock supply infrastructure development.
Mississippi's senior Senator has cosponsored legislation to authorize approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport oil from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region to refineries on the Gulf Coast. President Obama in January cancelled a permit for the pipeline project.