Whitfield Gas Price Bill Clears Subcommittee; Democrats Say It’s Ineffectual

by Erica Peterson on April 17, 2012

As gas prices near four dollars a gallon across the country, Congress is considering a proposal to study the causes of the higher prices.

One of the efforts is sponsored by Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). Whitfield’s bill is called the Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012, and it cleared the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power today. That’s not really a surprise, because Whitfield chairs the subcommittee and, like every other House body, Republicans are in the majority.

Whitfield’s legislation would form a committee to study the cumulative impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations, and how they affect consumers at the gas pump.

“And then another issue that is a little bit controversial, I recognize, under this bill, we would require that EPA consider cost and feasibility in setting the new ozone standards,” Whitfield said.

The EPA is currently barred from considering cost when setting air quality regulations because of a 2001 Supreme Court decision.

But the bill’s opponents, including Democratic Representative Henry Waxman of California, argue that the bill is worthless because those regulations have no effect on the current high gas prices.

“Every expert at our hearings on gas prices including the Republicans’ own witnesses told us that gasoline prices are driven by world oil prices, and world oil prices have spiked with rising global demand and tight supplies,” Waxman said.

The bill was also amended by Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas, who added a provision to study natural gas as a transportation fuel.

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