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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeFAZIO. This is a very, very dramatic map. The colors indicate gasoline prices across America as of last week by county. As you can see, the entire west coast of the United States is in bright red.

Now we often hear from the oil and gas industry that prices are set internationally. This is an international market. You have to understand that.

Well, that's kind of interesting. Crude oil prices are down dramatically. U.S. production of crude is up a million-and-a-half barrels a day. We're exporting gasoline from the United States of America. But somehow we're missing that international market on the west coast. We're being price gouged on the west coast of the United States through a series of rather interesting or perhaps suspicious circumstances.

The largest refinery in Washington State, Cherry Point, experienced a fire in February, and it's been quite a bit of time in recovery. It's been delayed several times. It's now coming back online. But given the fact that it was known that the largest refinery in the Northwest was offline, one would think that other refineries in California would endeavor to stay online, particularly as we begin the summer driving season. Well, no, actually not, because they had to do routine maintenance.

So five refineries in California, just before Memorial Day weekend in May, decided that it was time for routine maintenance. Then, suddenly we had a shortage. Well, actually we didn't have a shortage. There were no gas stations with yellow flags. There were no gas stations with little red flags. No one was going without gasoline, but a shortage was declared by the industry and the price was jacked up.

So while the rest of the country has seen prices come down, following the international markets, the price on the west coast has gone up, skyrocketing last week 13 cents for a gallon of regular. In one week it went up. It dropped a penny yesterday. All right. We're on the way down. It seems it always goes down a lot slower than it goes up. Kind of interesting.

So I contacted the President's working group for oil price and market manipulation, and my inquiry has been referred to various departments within the government, including the Justice Department, to look at antitrust implications; the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and others, to look at potential market manipulation.

So I just thought in light of the fact that there may have been--may have been--some market manipulation here and perhaps at other times in the past, that we should just have a simple statement of fact on behalf of the United States House of Representatives. No oil or gas company convicted of antitrust violations should be able to access any of the $500 million in the Fossil Energy Research and Development section. That is to say, taxpayers of the United States should not gift money to oil and gas companies that have been convicted of price-gouging the taxpayers of the United States of America. Pretty simple.

I mean, I have even greater concerns over that account; and I joined with 102 Republicans, last night, and 36 Democrats in voting to delete the $500 million for fossil energy research and development. I think the industry can fund it on its own. And I would hope at least those 102 Republicans last night who voted to totally eliminate that account and the 36 Democrats who voted to totally eliminate that account would join with me today to say, well, we didn't eliminate the account, but we're not going to allow anybody convicted of antitrust that is price-gouging American consumers and taxpayers to access these taxpayer dollars to subsidize their private research and development and profits.


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