Category Archives: Energy

Gas prices sure to fall; Larson against price gouging

LARSON VOTES TO CRACK DOWN ON PRICE GOUGINGBill supported by Rep. Larson Passes House; takes important step to end price gouging 


WASHINGTON – As Americans approach Memorial Day and the summer driving season, Congressman John B. Larson (CT-1) joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress and voted to approve new mechanisms to fight record high gas prices. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Larson voted for legislation to crack down on gas price gouging and OPEC state-controlled entities that conspire to limit the supply or fix the price of oil. Larson’s vote comes as families in
Connecticut are paying an average of $3.27 a gallon for gasoline.  This is more than a 116% spike from when President Bush took office in 2001.  
 

“Families in
Connecticut are feeling a serious pinch at the pump,”
said Congressman Larson. “I was proud to support legislation that will help crack down on price gouging and punish those who attempt to fix the price of oil.  The American people have paid enough.”
 

On Tuesday, the House approved H.R. 2264 to authorize the Justice Department to take legal action against OPEC state-controlled entities that participate in conspiracies to limit the supply, or fix the price, of oil. Nations or organizations that limit oil supply can artificially inflate the cost of gas and hurt American consumers.   

On Wednesday, the House approved The Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, H.R. 1252, of which Congressman Larson is a co-sponsor, which would give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to investigate and punish companies that artificially inflate the price of gas. The bill sets criminal penalties for price gouging, and permits states to bring lawsuits against wholesalers or retailers who engage in such practices. 

While a bipartisan majority in Congress supports these bills, President Bush has threatened to veto both pieces of legislation. 

“As the summer driving season approaches, too many families are being forced to choose between a bag of groceries and a gallon of gas,” Larson added. “President Bush is wrong to oppose these bills and I urge him to join us in our efforts to bring down the cost of gasoline.” 

The high cost for families come as oil companies continue to prosper. The six largest oil companies announced $30 billion in profits for the first quarter of 2007.  This is on top of the $125 billion in record profits they made in 2006. 

In addition to the legislation approved this week, in the first 100 Hours of the 110th Congress, the Democratic Congress has already voted to roll back $14 billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil companies and reinvest the money in clean, alternative fuels, renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Democrats are also developing an Independence Day package to boldly address energy independence and global warming by rapidly expanding the production of clean, alternative fuels and increasing energy efficiency, which will help protect our environment and bring down the cost of fuel for American consumers.

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Filed under Big Oil, Congress, Energy, fuel, gasoline prices, John Larson, price gouging

Larson: GOP to blame for high gas prices

LARSON: Democrats committed to real solutions to energy crisis and rising gas prices

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman John B. Larson (CT-01) released the following statement today as gas prices nationwide hit a nationwide high this week.  Across the country, the average price for regular gasoline has surged to $2.87 per gallon – climbing 50 cents over the past two months.  Some experts are predicting that gas prices could escalate to $4 per gallon.     

Earlier this month, Exxon Mobil announced that its first quarter profits increased by 10 percent, even after a year when it made $39 billion—the most profits ever for any company.  ConocoPhillips also saw their profits climb nearly 8 percent in the first quarter – showing that oil companies continue to bring in huge profits while gas prices continue to rise.  Last year, the six Big Oil companies made a record $125 billion while consumers footed the bill.

 “Gas prices are out of control.  Today, in Connecticut drivers are paying some of the highest gas prices in the nation—upwards of $3.15 a gallon-a whopping 107 percent more than when President Bush took office in 2001.  For six years President Bush and the complicit Republican Congress failed to enact a comprehensive energy strategy that would help stabilize the cost of gas and make America more energy independent. The bad decisions of the past six years have forced millions of families to choose between a bag of groceries and filling up their gas tanks. 

“Democrats are offering real solutions to this crisis.  In the first 100 hours we passed the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007, to repeal $14 billion in subsidies and tax breaks for Big Oil companies in order to invest in clean renewable energy and alternative fuels and energy efficiency.  Cutting subsidies to an industry raking in huge profits to invest in clean, alternative energy is just common sense. This is just the beginning of a comprehensive effort to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, ensuring that energy will be more affordable for America’s families in the future and that America’s families are not at the whim of overseas oil cartels. “By July 4th, the House will begin working on the first part of our plan to end our addiction to foreign oil and address climate change.  Democrats are committed to investing in the development of clean, sustainable energy alternatives including
America’s vast renewable resources. We will also be working to provide relief for consumers while bringing down gas prices by ensuring that oil companies aren’t unfairly gouging consumers
.”

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Filed under Energy, fuel prices, gasoline prices, John Larson

Congressman Larson gains key House position

Our congressman, John Larson, just got tapped as one of 10 Democrats who will serve on the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. He’ll no doubt do a lot of cheerleading for fuel cells, since they’re made hereabouts, but the position is much bigger than a bully pulpit for local interests.

“The work of the committee is going to be critical as global warming and energy dependence are probably two of the most important issues facing the future of our planet.  Global warming and our dependence on oil risk our economic security, our national security, and threaten our environment and public health,” Larson said, or at least his press release said he said it.

He continued, “In my district and throughout Connecticut, we have successfully expanded the use of fuel cell technology and I plan to bring this to the dialogue. This issue has been ignored for far too long and now it is time for serious solutions and action and I am proud to be a part.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Fuel cells may be important, or they may not. Only time will tell, as they say.

But what is important is that the new commitee “will hold hearings and investigations locally, nationally, and internationally to gather the information needed to protect our national security and the environment.  It is charged with recommending to the Congress policies, strategies and other innovations to reduce the dependence of the United States on foreign sources of energy and prevent global warming.”

They key is that men and women like Larson take that job seriously. These are perhaps the most serious issues our country faces – how to lessen the impact of global warming and make us less dependent on half-assed Arab states that hold us hostage with oil. No empire should have its lifeblood in the hands of kingdoms so fragile and far away. We need to break free.

Larson has a chance here to make a real difference to the course of our history, to shed his party boy image and to advocate  the kind of bold steps that can save us from a potentally dreary future of war and warmth. We do not have to blindly go forward on this same dark path. We can take a different direction.

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Filed under Congress, Energy, Environment, Foreign policy, global warming, Iraq war, John Larson, News, Politics

Let’s put utility lines underground in West Hartford

At a time when the price of everything is rising fast, it probably seems nuts to say we should make utility costs even higher by burying all those wires everywhere in town. But we should.

I’m told that burying utilities in Connecticut would cost more than $1 million per mile so I’m aware that doing this will add up to gigantic numbers that we’ll have to pay if the community chose to take up the idea. The upside, though, is a town that looks better.

As Scenic America tells on its website, other communities across the country are doing it, from San Antonio to Saratoga Springs. Why? Because the tangle of wires and poles all over the place is ugly. Aesthetics has a value. But there are also practical safety and reliability issues that burying utility lines would support.

I’m merely guessing, but with more than 200 miles of roads in the town, most of them lined with poles and wires, it would probably cost at least $250 million to bury every line in town. That’s a huge number, by any standard.

But it doesn’t need to be done all a once. If the town made it a goal, we could do a few miles a year – more if things lined up right some years – and eventually the job would be done. It would be a gift to our children and grandchildren to give them a prettier, safer town. It would also boost property values as the wires came down in neighborhood after neighborhood.

I’m just tossing this out there, but I do believe in it. Why should dangerous wires be dangling overhead wherever you go in West Hartford? Let’s begin to put them underground where they belong. Since new subdivisions never have wires overhead, it’d be like giving our aging town a makeover. We can be young again!

Seriously, it’s worth exploring. Let’s not put our heads in the ground. Let’s put the wires there instead.

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Filed under Energy, power ines, Town government, utilities, utily lines

Clean energy grant for West Hartford

According to the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, West Hartford is one of 15 towns across the state to qualify for a $5,000 clean energy grant. Among our neighbors, Hartford and Bloomfield also snagged grants.

The idea, a press release from the fund said, is that the communities can use the cash to “support clean energy awareness and education.”

“Under the program, which is funded with $200,000 from CCEF, the first 40 qualifying Connecticut cities and towns are being offered a $5,000 block grant from CCEF,” the press release said. Nine towns secured grants in the first round so there are 16 more that will get the money.

In order to qualify, a municipality must first commit to the SmartPower 20% by 2010 clean energy campaign and attend a workshop on the grants program,” the press release said. “The local energy task force in each town coordinates a micro-grant giving process, soliciting and reviewing project proposals from nonprofit organizations or individuals motivated to start up local clean energy awareness and education projects. The energy task force in each town then determines which projects to support with micro-grants of between $250 and $2,000. This program is intended to support creative new ways of promoting and supporting clean renewable energy in our communities.”

I guess that means West Hartford has some kind of task force in place that will figure out where the money should go. The dollars won’t matter too much, since they’re a drop in the bucket, but with motivated people a task force focusing attention on the issue could be a major boon to West Hartford.

One of our town’s goals ought to be that we become, and remain, the state’s leader in moving toward the use of sustainable energy. I know the town has done well so far. But let’s aim to be number one by any measure on this important, cutting edge issue.

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Filed under Energy, Politics, Taxes, Town government, West Hartford economy