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Letter to Honorable Samuel W. Bodman, Secretary of Energy


Location: Phoenix, AZ

Letter to Honorable Samuel W. Bodman, Secretary of Energy

March 21, 2007

Honorable Samuel W. Bodman
Secretary of Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585

Dear Mr. Secretary:

As we head into the summer driving season, I am very concerned about yet
another spike in gasoline prices. Nationally, prices are up more than 30 cents since last month while here in Arizona prices have increased more than 42 cents and are more than 25 cents above last year's prices. As you know, the price of gasoline has a ripple effect on almost every other good and service as well as the overall economy.

Although we have heard from the oil and gas industry the usual explanations for the increase in prices across the nation, including high crude oil prices, multiple refinery outages, refinery transitions to summer fuel blends, and high demand, we have received no explanation for why this spike is occurring so early or why this industry is not able to better anticipate these recurring factors and make the adjustments necessary to offset their effects on American consumers.

Indeed, the persistent seasonal spike in prices, coupled with its early onset this year, highlights the lack of real competition in at least the refining industry, which has not seen new market entrants in over 30 years. Without competition, existing refiners appear to have no economic incentive to modernize their equipment or adjust their practices to better anticipate the factors routinely cited to us as the cause of these seasonal price spikes.

This ongoing problem warrants a stronger response than we have seen from the federal government. Over the long run, our nation needs an energy policy that moves us closer to the goal of energy independence, while affording our consumers short-term protection against avoidable seasonal price spikes.

Despite calls from citizens and various Governors, our country still lacks such a national energy policy, and remains susceptible to wild fluctuations of oil prices dictated by foreign countries and global oil companies that continue to report record profits at the expense of our citizens.

More immediately, I call upon you to conduct a comprehensive and meaningful
investigation of the refining industry, including refining practices and maintenance. At a minimum, such an inquiry should shed light on the high number of refinery maintenance issues experienced recently and help consumers understand why they are being forced to pay record prices so far in advance of the traditional summer season.

The drivers in my state and across the nation are justifiably frustrated with the most recent price surge. It is time for a strong federal response and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest opportunity.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano

cc: The Honorable John McCain
The Honorable Jon Kyl
The Honorable Raul Grijalva
The Honorable Ed Pastor
The Honorable Jim Kolbe
The Honorable Harry Mitchell
The Honorable John Shadegg
The Honorable Rick Renzi
The Honorable Gabrielle Giffords
The Honorable Jeff Flake

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