Gas prices spiked in the summer of 2008 and then dropped back to historical levels in late 2008 and early 2009. However, prices began to rise again and are now approaching or surpassing levels seen in mid-2008.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA), the federal agency dedicated to disseminating research-based information about U.S. energy markets, has concluded that the price of crude oil is the main contributor to the general increase in retail gasoline prices. EIA reports cite the recent improvements in both the U.S. and world economies as contributing to oil price increases as demand for gasoline goes up. The recent turmoil in the Middle East has also led to an increase in crude oil prices due to uncertainty about the future of oil supplies.
Rep. Petri believes that, in order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we must promote conservation, develop alternative energy sources, and increase domestic production in a responsible manner. He believes that the only way we will truly gain energy independence is through a diversification of energy sources and new transformational technologies that harness American ingenuity and innovation. Rep. Petri has also supported legislation to streamline the refinery permitting process, strengthen laws against price gouging, open up federal lands in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to domestic oil exploration, and reduce the number of mandated "boutique fuels" in our state that drive up the cost of gasoline.
Rep. Petri has consistently opposed large subsidies to oil and gas producers working federal lease areas. These subsidies simply are not necessary at a time when the market price of oil is high. He has voted in support of legislation and amendments to close a loophole in current law that has allowed these companies to profit on government land without paying a user fee.
Rep. Petri will continue to support the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which provides funds to states so that they may help low-income households pay home energy expenses. States may use LIHEAP funds to assist families with heating and cooling costs, provide crisis assistance, and pay for weatherization projects.
Cap and Trade Legislation:
While he believes climate change is a serious concern, Rep. Petri voted against the cap-and-trade bill because of the considerable negative consequences it would have on our state. He made the following statement following the vote in June 2009:
"With pulp and paper, food processing, foundries and printing, Wisconsin has the single most manufacturing-intensive economy in the country on a per capita basis. Our industries are already struggling and cannot afford added burdens at this time. Furthermore, my constituents would likely see their utility bills skyrocket while other parts of the country would see a windfall. In essence, our wealth would be transferred to the coasts which benefit from hydropower and other alternatives.
"While the impact of this bill would hit us particularly hard, it threatens considerable damage to the economy as a whole. It creates a maze of federal bureaucracies and red tape to administer its provisions, expands more than two-dozen federal agencies, creates a National Climate Service and vastly expands the power of the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Although we need to respond to climate change, we have to find a way to do it without jeopardizing our economy and global competitiveness. Without a strong economy, we won't be able to pay for the changes we need to make."
EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases:
In December of 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an "endangerment finding" for greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). This ruling followed a Supreme Court decision(Massachusetts vs. EPA) that compelled EPA to decide whether GHGs are air pollutants that endanger public health and welfare, and if so embark on a regulatory course that is prescribed by statute. Thus, since EPA has issued an "endangerment finding," the agency is now proceeding forward with regulating GHGs under the Clean Air Act.
On April 7, 2011, the House passed H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, by a vote of 255-172. This legislation would prevent EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions for the purpose of addressing climate change. Rep. Petri voted in favor of this bill because he strongly believes that Congress has never given EPA explicit authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Regardless of one's view on climate change or energy policy, he believes the issue should be addressed by Congress and not a federal agency. Additionally, Rep. Petri has serious concerns about EPA's actions and the ability of the agency to regulate GHGs without causing serious harm to the U.S. economy.