Pain at the Gas Pump Continues to Hurt Families, Businesses

March 19, 2012

By U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner

On Sunday, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in the Milwaukee area hit $4.07. When President Obama took office, it was $1.89. Higher energy costs are a burden on American families and threatening our economic recovery.

In 2011, the average household spent an estimated $4,155 at the pump.  In total that represents 8.4 percent of what the median family makes annually, money that could be spent elsewhere when times are tough.

Surging gas prices hit Americans not only the pump, but also at the grocery store. As gas prices increase transportation costs, small businesses and large distributors alike will shift that price burden to the consumers.

Continued political uncertainty in the oil-producing regions puts the world’s supply at risk. Issues in countries such as Iran, Sudan and Nigeria all have played a role in affecting the overall supply of the world market, while demand in emerging markets such as China and India continues to grow.

But the president has done little to reduce our vulnerability to events on the world stage by advocating for policies that only increase our dependency on foreign oil and prohibit domestic production.

It is alarming that Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu clearly communicated this political and ideological agenda when he said, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” Then, the president rejected the Keystone XL pipeline that would have transported up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast area.

Currently, the administration is withholding permits for offshore drilling in the Gulf Coast. Since issuing a stoppage to deepwater drilling permits in 2010, the number of permits granted for offshore drilling and exploration issued has declined by nearly 50 percent.

On top of that, the president’s 2013 budget proposal included more than $85 billion in new taxes on oil and gas, which would inevitably translate into higher prices at the pump for the average consumer.

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