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Press Release: Sali Calls for Real Solutions to High Gas Prices

June 25th, 2008 by Halli

From the Office of Rep. Bill Sali

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Bill Sali today, again, insisted that Congress pass legislation to end the ban on American energy exploration and production, as a bill to impose new penalities on price gouging failed to collect enough votes to pass the House.

Sali voted against H.R. 6346, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act.

The bill would impose civil and criminal penalties for sales of fuel that are determined to be “price gouging” during any period in which the President of the United States has declared an “energy emergency.” Under this legislation, liability is based on the determination that fuels have been sold at “unconscionably excessive” prices and that a seller is taking “unfair advantage of the circumstances related to an energy emergency to increase prices unreasonably.”

“This so-called ‘anti-price gouging’ legislation throws a stick in the spokes of free-market competition,” Sali said, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee. “Terms like ‘unconscionably excessive’ are so vague that no one can say what they mean today. That will force people into our courts to have them tell us what those words mean. Who wants that? This measure would ultimately mandate that certain private companies sell their products within a price-range that is acceptable to a handful of federal regulators during periods the President has declared an energy emergency. That’s not what Idahoans or Americans generally need or deserve.

“Today Idahoans are paying over $4 per gallon at the pump and yet the Majority insists on bringing legislation to the floor that will do nothing to ease the strain on our pocketbooks. Gas prices vary from region to region, state to state and even block to block, for a variety of reasons such as state and local tax variations, distance to the supply, supply disruptions and competition in local markets. Federally micromanaged interference in the free-market is not a realistic or effective way to lower the prices we are paying now.

“Instead of focusing on price controls, Congress must focus on the solution – increasing American supply. When supplies are increased, no one will be in a position to engage in price gouging. Increased American exploration and production of American crude oil and natural gas need to be a priority for Congress. I will be joining my colleagues in the Western Caucus in unveiling a comprehensive plan later this week that does just that,” concluded the Congressman.

H.R. 6346 needed a two-thirds vote to pass. It failed on a vote of 276-146.

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