May 29, 2007

Rogers votes with big oil against consumers

When you fill up your car’s gas tank in the next couple of weeks, I hope you remember Mike Rogers voted, again, with big oil companies in opposing a bill that would outlaw gasoline price gouging.

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) introduced HR 1252, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, that would provide penalties for those who take unfair advantage of consumers at the pump. The legislation would penalize individuals or companies for taking "unfair advantage" or charging "unconscionably excessive" prices for gasoline and other fuels.

The bill passed the House 284-141 last week and now goes to the Senate. The bill saw 56 Republicans joining all but one Democrat in supporting the bill, including two Michigan Republicans, but Rogers joined fellow Republicans Pete Hoekstra, Vern Ehlers, Dave Camp, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg and Joe Knollenberg in voting for big oil and against the consumer.

Gasoline is near the $4 a gallon mark, and gas prices in Michigan are the highest in the nation, yet Rogers thinks record and obscene profits by oil companies are not enough.

Even without the numbers in yet for the record gas prices, oil companies are raking it in. BP Amoco enjoyed a profit increase of 117 percent between 2002 and 2004. In 2002, BP Amoco netted a hefty $8.4 billion. In 2004, this ballooned to $17 billion. Shell raked in a hefty $10 billion dollar profit in 2002, which jumped to $18 billion by 2004. In 2002, Exxon Mobil’s profit was just a measly $11.5 billion, but by 2004 that more than doubled to $25 billion.

You will remember Bush’s energy policy, put together by oil men in secret, threw money at oil companies for research, new drilling, new refineries and it even allowed them to drill on federal land without paying any royalties.

We are told the high price is because of increased demand, but oil companies are not increasing new drilling and increasing supply. Why? Because that would increase supply and drive down prices. We are told we pay more for gasoline the farther away from a refinery we are. Ironically, the ones closest to Michigan, like in Toledo, shut down for maintenance just as demand is heaviest, driving the supply down and the price up. Oil companies do not want to build any new refineries because it will increase supply and drive the price down.

With all this stacked in the favor of oil companies, why not a small protection for consumers?

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