09/01/05 — The gas crisis: Congressman Jones wants investigation

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The gas crisis: Congressman Jones wants investigation

Congressman Walter Jones Jr. has called for congressional hearings on oil prices. That came before Hurricane Katrina but in the wake of skyrocketing prices at the pump.

Crude oil prices, of course, have been rising steadily, and the problem has been exacerbated by Katrina’s effects on oil taken from rigs in the Gulf.

But consumers for years have been intrigued at how quickly even mention of production cuts or increases in crude prices are translated into higher prices at the pump.

This has been particularly true in the case of Katrina. The same gas that was in the underground tanks jumped as much as 20 cents per gallon overnight.

Don’t blame gas prices on your local service station operator or distributor. Prices apparently are determined in executive offices and board rooms much farther up the line.

In a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, Congressman Jones said, “The American people deserve a comprehensive federal investigation to determine why gas prices are rising so dramatically, and to examine what federal action is needed to bring prices down and prevent spikes in the future.”

Among other things, the government must take another look at regulations prohibiting development of domestic oil and gas resources and which have prevented expansion of our refining capabilities.

Part of the overall energy crisis can be attributed to opposition to nuclear plants. This limited the availability of that great energy source and delayed and increased the cost of plants that were built.

Today we are in a great energy crisis that has a deleterious effect on every American family and every business. The staggering cost of gasoline translates into higher prices of everything — from food to medicines to essential services.

Chairman Barton should respond quickly to Congressman Jones’ request. Specific causes of the crisis must be identified and corrective measures explored. Where there has been gouging — and undoubtedly some have yielded to that temptation — let us gouge the gougers at whatever levels they might exist.

But above all, the nation needs to address the root causes of the crisis we have allowed to fall upon us.

Published in Editorials on September 1, 2005 10:19 AM