U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., today sent a letter to the Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, and the Chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works, Sen. Barbara Boxer, requesting a joint committee hearing on the cause of the recent surge in California gas prices.
"Many have already inquired as to why gasoline prices in California climbed to record highs, rising from about $4.20 per gallon to $4.70 per gallon in the span of a single week," Murkowski and Inhofe wrote. "It seems that refinery outages, pipeline issues, and fuel blend requirements unique to California had a significant impact."
Several members of Congress have blamed market manipulation and price gouging for the high fuel prices -- going so far as to call on the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to investigate. Murkowski and Inhofe feel that convening a joint hearing of the Senate committees of jurisdiction would be the best way for Congress to understand the situation and develop policy decisions to prevent similar events from happening elsewhere in the country.
"This isn't the first time we have heard about the difficulties created for families, businesses, and the country as a whole when gasoline and other energy prices increase. Given the litany of regulations, taxes, and other policies already in place or expected in the near future, it certainly won't be the last," Murkowski and Inhofe wrote. "We urgently need to understand the consequences they may have for consumers once in place."
Murkowski is the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Inhofe is the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The two committees share jurisdiction over the issue of fuel prices.