Congressman Doyle Urges President Bush To Pressure Oil Company Executives To Lower Gas Prices

September 9, 2005
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA-14) today joined a number of Members of Congress in urging President Bush to meet with the leaders of the nation’s oil companies to pressure them to lower gasoline prices.

“Supply and demand can’t account for the spike in gas prices we’ve seen,” Congressman Doyle said today. “It’s unacceptable that people in this country are profiteering from the misery of our fellow citizens.”

“Americans want and deserve stable, affordable gas prices,” Doyle said. “That’s why I’ve urged President Bush to meet with the leaders of our nation’s major oil companies.”

“These companies have the ability – and the responsibility – to make certain that no one in their distribution chain is taking advantage of Hurricane Katrina to squeeze consumers for excessive profits.”

“The President has said that his experience and connections in the oil industry would enable him to keep gas prices reasonable. The prices we’ve all paid over the last two weeks are hurting many Americans, and it’s clearly time for him to call in any chits he’s got with his friends in the oil industry. The President must make every possible effort to bring gas prices down. At the very least, he should remind the oil companies that federal law prohibits unfair trade practices. Working families struggling to make ends meet deserve no less. I hope that the President will take our message to heart.”

Congressman Doyle and 80 other Members of the House signed the letter to President Bush. The text of this letter follows on the next page.

Doyle Press Release
September 9, 2005
Page 2

September 9, 2005

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to request that you meet as soon as possible with executives of the nation's major oil companies to learn what they are doing to reduce the cost of gasoline.

As you know, the cost of gasoline is unsustainable. According to the American Automobile Association, gas prices remain at $3.04 per gallon on average - a “consumption tax” on American businesses and individuals which is already harming the nation's economy. In some pockets of the country, gasoline prices exceeded $6 per gallon on Labor Day weekend. With the summer driving season concluded and many refineries closed during Hurricane Katrina now having restarted operations, we are concerned that some of the current high costs of gasoline may be attributable to excessive profit-taking at the wholesale level. In order to help ensure that gasoline prices reflect the falling price of oil and increase in refinery production, we believe that meeting with oil company executives would be prudent, reminding them that the Federal Trade Commission Act forbids unfair trading practices in the interstate trade of gasoline.

We understand that you favor allowing market forces to correct the situation. But given the circumstances, we believe the Federal government must increase its oversight capacity and bring all its resources to bear on excessive profit-taking in the oil industry. Such a strategy has met with success in the past; in July 2000, then-Energy Secretary Richardson met with oil industry executives with gasoline prices averaging $1.664 per gallon. Within two weeks after the meeting, the price declined six cents and within a month, another eight cents.

At present, the Congress has issued bipartisan warnings to oil companies about price gouging. Republican Senate Energy Committee Chairman Domenici pledged to hold hearings if price gouging is suspected, while members of the House Democratic caucus have introduced legislation making price gouging a federal crime. We believe it is vital for the executive branch to instate a similar “zero tolerance” policy for oil companies that engage in price gouging.

At this time of national crisis, the American people expect not only responsiveness from their government but action. Calling the oil industry to account is one affirmative step your administration could take to begin to restore public confidence in your ability to handle the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

We look forward to your prompt action.