May 08, 2008

CARDIN BACKS CONSUMER-FIRST ENERGY ACT

"Our nation must move quickly toward long-term energy independence"

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today joined as a co-sponsor of the Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008 , which is designed to attack the root causes of the current energy crisis, hold big oil companies accountable, and protect consumers from price gouging and excessive speculation.

 

"Americans are hurting every time they fill up the family gas tank while big oil companies are reaping record profits. This has to change. We need a national energy policy now that puts consumers first, holds accountable anyone who would take advantage of our national crisis, and puts the United States on the fast track to energy independence," said Senator Cardin.

 

"Congress has a responsibility to take immediate action to protect the American consumer and small businesses that are seeing a larger portion of their basic income and profits dedicated to fuel and energy costs."

 

Marylanders are now paying an average of $4,554 a year for gasoline, $2,754 more than when President Bush took office. During that same period, gas prices in Maryland increased by $2.18 per gallon or 153 percent.  Families, businesses, and farmers in Maryland will spend $464 million more on gasoline in May 2008 than they spent in January 2001.  Maryland consumers, farmers, and businesses are on track to pay $9.15 billion for gasoline this year.

 

 

Summary of the Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008

 

Findings - The cumulative impact of disastrous Bush Administration policies and budget priorities has created an economic/energy crisis in America.  

 

Windfall Profits Tax - Imposes a 25% tax on "windfall profits" of the major oil companies.   This tax would not apply to excess profits the oil companies invested in clean, affordable and domestically produced renewable alternative fuels, expanding refinery capacity and utilization, or renewable electricity production.   All revenue collected would be deposited into an Energy Independence and Security Trust Fund.     

 

Elimination of Unnecessary Tax Breaks for Oil and Gas Companies - Repeals the deduction for domestic production for the major oil and gas companies for their income on the sale, exchange or other disposition of oil, natural gas, or any primary product thereof.   Tightens the rules restricting the use of foreign tax credits on oil and gas related income.   All revenue collected would be deposited into an Energy Independence and Security Trust Fund.

 

Suspend filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through December 2008.   Allow filling to resume when the 90-day average price of crude oil recedes to $75 or less.   

 

Punish Price Gouging -   The President is given authority to declare an energy emergency if there is a shortage, disruption or significant pricing anomalies.   During such an emergency, setting "an unconscionably excessive price" is made unlawful and punishable with significant civil penalties.

 

Limit Price Impacts of Excessive Speculation - Prevents traders of U.S. crude oil from routing transactions through off-shore markets to evade speculative limits and sets reporting requirements.   - Require the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to set a substantially increased margin requirement within 90 days for all crude oil futures trades, contracts or transactions, to limit excessive speculation and protect consumers.

 

No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) - The provision allows the Attorney General to bring an enforcement action against any country or company that is colluding in setting the price of oil, natural gas or any petroleum product.