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Consumer-First Energy Act Is a Needed First Step

June 10, 2008 

Consumer-First Energy Act Is a Needed First Step

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

While President Bush fiddles as the economy burns from the impact of high energy prices, Senate leadership has proposed legislation, S. 3044, which addresses the pain families are feeling at the pump. Asking oil companies to pay their fair share in taxes to finance a new Energy Independence & Security Trust Fund is not unreasonable; it will provide households with the access to alternatives to high-priced oil that they desperately need. And beefing up the laws and enforcement to make sure that oil companies and financial speculators are playing by the rules will help ensure that all Americans get access to fairly priced energy.

Specifically, S. 3044, the Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008,which faces a key vote in the Senate today, would:

● classify Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as an illegal cartel under American anti-trust law;

● repeal billions in oil company tax breaks and implement a new windfall profits tax on oil company earnings, dedicating 100 percent of the revenue to a new Energy Independence & Security Trust Fund that could fund the renewable energy and sustainable energy investments;

● impose stronger regulation on the financial firms and oil companies that are wildly speculating on oil prices. Subjecting off-shore oil traders to stronger regulation and imposing higher margin requirements will reduce the level of harmful speculation; and

● empower the president, Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to protect households from price-gouging during a presidentially declared emergency by temporarily capping price hikes.

Today, senators are scheduled to vote whether to move the bill forward. For the sake of our energy future, senators should approve this bill.