Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 5:39 pm | Fair 58º


Capps Backs Key Measures to Bring Relief from High Energy Costs

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Thursday voted for several key measures to provide U.S. families with relief by addressing high energy costs.

The bills are part of the Democratic-led Congress’ continuing efforts toward energy independence through enhanced energy efficiency and alternative energy sources.

“Throughout the Central and South Coasts and across the country, Americans are suffering due to record prices at the pump,” Capps said. “These sky-high prices are due in no small part to President Bush’s drill-happy energy policy over the past eight years, now being embraced by Sen. McCain. As the Bush administration and congressional Republicans continue to push a failed energy policy, Democrats in Congress continued to take action to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, increase energy efficiency and crack down on the big oil companies, price gougers and speculators that are helping to drive up energy costs for consumers.

“I was proud this week to stand up for American consumers by backing legislation that will crack down on price gougers and Wall Street speculators who experts say are driving up the price of oil and gas; force oil companies to drilling the undeveloped oil leases they’re sitting on; and make public transit more affordable and accessible. These are common sense measures that will lower energy costs far faster than more drilling in our pristine coastal areas.”

Bills considered on the House floor Wednesday and Thursday included:

» The Energy Price Gouging Prevention Act (House Resolution 6346), which would encourage the investigation and punishment of those who artificially inflate the price of gasoline and diesel fuel. The bill would establish criminal penalties for price gouging, and permits states to bring lawsuits against wholesalers or retailers who engage in such practices. The legislation also would give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to investigate and punish companies that artificially inflate the price of energy. Capps joined nearly all Democratic members and 51 Republicans in supporting the legislation.  The bill failed to garner the necessary two-thirds support for passage. The final vote was 276-146, and the legislation could be voted on again after the July Fourth recess.

» The Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008 (House Resolution 6052). The bill would give grants to mass transit authorities to reduce public transit fares, giving consumers a cost-effective alternative to $4-plus per gallon gasoline. The bill’s $1.7 billion in mass transit grants for the next two years also could be used to expand transit services and for the escalating operating costs of public transportation and would be available to both rural and urban areas. The bill was approved by a vote of 328-198.

» The Energy Markets Emergency Act (House Resolution 6377). The legislation would direct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to use it full authority and most potent emergency tools to curtail excessive speculation and other practices distorting the energy market. Rampant speculation has been cited as one cause of the spike in gas prices. The bill was approved by a vote of 402-19.

» The Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act (House Resolution 6251). The “Use it or Lose it” legislation would force oil companies to produce oil and gas, or diligently develop, the 68 million acres of public land they already have leased, but are not using to produce energy. The bill failed to garner the necessary two-thirds support for passage. The final vote was 223-195, and the legislation could be voted on again after the July Fourth recess.

Emily Kryder is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

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