Senators Warn Bill Could Spike Gas $1.50 to $5 a Gallon

     Worried about gas prices hitting $4 a gallon and beyond? Imagine if they were $6, $7 or even $8 a gallon. Those levels are a certain possibility should Congress pass cap-and-trade legislation, which could face a vote in early June.

     Oil is trading at record levels, in excess of $120 a barrel. Leading Republican Sens. James Inhofe (Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.) both told the Business & Media Institute (BMI) energy prices would drastically increase if the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191) is signed into law.

    “The studies show it would be directly affected, would be a $1.50 a gallon, in addition to what it is today,” Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said to (BMI).

     Inhofe spoke at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on May 15 to introduce the “We Get It!” campaign – a program founded by evangelical Christians that question the merits of global warming alarmism. According to Inhofe, the bill will make it to the floor of the Senate on June 2.

     “So now I think we need to concentrate on what it will cost the American people,” he said during the press conference. “To try to put it in a perspective people understand, if we had ratified, according to the Wharton School of Economics, the Kyoto Treaty, back five years ago, it would have cost about – between $300 and $330 billion – that was the range they had. This bill that’s up today is $471 billion – far more than that. And the question is, what do you get for it?”

     Sessions, a member of the Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, went a step further. He cited sources that suggest the increase could be as much as $5 a gallon.

     “[L]et me tell you what’s heading down the tracks,” Sessions said to BMI on May 14. “In a few weeks, we expect that the cap-and-trade legislation that’s been voted out of Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) Environment and Public Works Committee will be on the floor and according to the Environmental Protection Agency it will increase gas prices by $1.50. The National Association of Manufacturers says it will increase it as much as $5 per gallon.”

     Sessions proposed that money should be spent on energy investment versus a regulatory bureaucracy to enforce the provisions of the Lieberman-Warner bill.

     “So instead of actually coming forward with any idea about what to do about rising prices, we’ll soon be voting on a bill that has already passed committee, has some Republican support, that would surge the price of energy, create a bureaucracy – and I just don’t think is the right thing to do,” Sessions said. “I’d rather spend our money in investing in the new the technologies, helping get nuclear power online, improving batteries, researching cellulosic ethanol. Let’s spend our money on that without creating cap-and-trade bureaucracies that have not worked in Europe.”

     According to the Energy Information Administration, the average price of a gallon of gas in Europe ranges from $8 to $9 a gallon.

     Gas prices have been one of the most reported news stories of the past several years. Reporters have repeatedly warned of prices approaching the levels Inhofe and Sessions warned about. However, journalists have consistently complained about oil company profits, not taxes, making gas prices higher.

     On NBC’s May 15 “Today,” host Matt Lauer interviewed ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) CEO Rex Tillerson. Lauer quizzed Tillerson on oil companies’ profit margins and higher gas prices, but Lauer didn’t ask Tillerson about the potential impact Lieberman-Warner would have on the price of gasoline.

     “Well, the problem we have right now, and fortunately we have several months before the election, to make sure the American people know that this is a supply problem that is causing the gas prices to go up,” Inhofe said to BMI. “You know the Democrats, right down party lines – they do not want to drill in ANWR, they do not want to drill offshore. They don’t want the tar sands. They don’t want more energy. And they don’t want refinery capacity.”

     The Senate defeated a measure to drill in ANWR on May 13. The vote, an amendment to another bill, was killed by a vote of 42-56, largely along party lines. Only one Democrat voted for the amendment, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and five Republicans voting against it.

     Inhofe blamed Democratic policies going as far back as the Clinton administration.

     “The Democrats are the reason we have high prices at the pumps, and we’re not going to be able to alleviate that until we start producing again in America,” Inhofe added. “And I knew this was happening way back, well 10 years ago, when President Clinton vetoed the bill that would have allowed us to drill in ANWR. I said on the Senate floor that day 10 years ago that in 10 years we would regret this. It’s now 10 years later.”