By Representative Jackie Speier
As a service to you, I wanted to share with you a list of Gas Savings Tips for Consumers -- 12 easy steps that you can take to save money on gas. You can download the list by clicking on the link above. All of us can help conserve energy, lessen our dependence on oil and save money in the process. I hope you find these tips useful, and if you have any questions or suggestions, I welcome you to write or call my office using the contact information below.
As you know, Americans are once again facing record-high prices at the pump, a crisis that threatens families struggling to make ends meet and puts our economic recovery at risk. Consumers are paying upwards of $4.50 a gallon in San Francisco, and the price could climb even higher as the summer approaches.
As your Representative in Congress, I am working hard to promote a range of short and long term solutions to this problem. However, the truth is that there is no silver-bullet solution to high gas prices. The reality is that America is still addicted to oil, and the longer we stay hooked on this volatile resource, the more we will continue to pay for it.
Some believe that there is not enough oil drilling taking place and that more drilling will solve this problem. But the facts are that the United States is producing more oil than it has in the past 8 years; the number of U.S. oil drilling rigs has quadrupled over the past 3 years; and there are now more U.S. oil and gas drilling rigs at work than the rest of the world combined.
Meanwhile, Big Oil companies are making record profits while they continue to enjoy $4 billion a year in tax breaks, which I do not believe they need. Wall Street speculators are using market fears to jack up the price of oil by as much as 22%, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Congress needs to repeal wasteful tax breaks and put tough limits on excessive speculation to rein in these price spikes.
These are just some of the steps we need to take to help save consumers money and accelerate America's drive toward real energy independence:
Release Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
Every President since George H.W. Bush has released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), a step that can quickly lower the price of gasoline for consumers by as much as 30%. The SPR is currently 96% full and can tolerate a release as before. I have called on President Obama to approve a new release of oil from the SPR as soon as possible to provide relief for consumers at the pump.
End Excessive Oil Speculation on Wall Street
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is charged with policing fraud by stock traders and hedge funds on Wall Street. It estimates that speculation is contributing as much as 22% to the record spike in the price of a barrel of oil. The Wall Street Reform Act that I helped pass as a member of the House Financial Services Committee required the CFTC to set new limits on the amount of speculation allowed on oil commodities.
Last year, I wrote a letter to the CFTC calling on the agency to speed up investigation and enforcement of these new limits. Predictably, Wall Street is now lobbying against these rules and is suing the CFTC to block them. I am fighting in Congress to uphold these rules and put the interests of consumers ahead of Wall Street's status quo.
End Tax Breaks for Big Oil Companies The five biggest oil companies -- BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell -- have made more than half a trillion dollars in profits over the past five years and more than a trillion dollars since 2001. Just last year, these oil companies earned a record-breaking $137 billion -- a 75 percent increase from 2010 -- despite producing 4% less oil than they did the year before. Big Oil spent $146 million lobbying Congress last year and $18 million on federal campaign contributions.
Americans are right to be concerned that these special interests are gaining undue influence over Congress. The last thing oil companies want is for Congress to take away the subsidies and tax breaks they receive as they continue to benefit from record profits. I believe it is time for that to change, and that is why I support repealing these tax breaks, including an $11.6 billion deduction on income and a $13.9 billion write-off on drilling costs. Ending these provisions would save the United States $40 billion over 10 years.
Support American Conservation, Innovation and Clean Energy
You may not have heard it lately, but the good news is that the United States is making real progress on the path toward energy self-sufficiency. For the first time since 1949, the United States has become a net exporter of oil products. With less than 2% of the world's oil reserves, however, it is imperative that we reduce our demand for oil and move to develop alternative sources of energy.
I strongly support the Administration's efforts to increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for American cars and light trucks -- according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these new mileage standards, based in part on the standards we have set in California, will reduce U.S. oil consumption by 2 million barrels of oil a day by 2025 and save consumers from $3,000-$5,000 over the life of new fuel efficient vehicles.
We must also encourage businesses to Make It in America once again. American manufacturing has everything to gain from the investments we make in clean energy. Today, clean energy is the fastest growing industry in the United States and creates three times as many jobs as fossil fuels. According to the Brookings Institution, developing new clean energy technologies like wind and solar could support 20 million jobs by 2030 and generate trillions of dollars in revenue, which would help Americans transition to clean energy and pay down our debt.
Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail. It is an honor to represent and serve you in Congress. My office is here to help you -- if you are in need of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office and a member of my staff will be happy to speak with you.
All the best