Menendez, Lautenberg Call For Action To Lower Gas Prices

Menendez, Lautenberg Call For Action To Lower Gas Prices

Rep. Pascrell joined the Senators in discussing the effort in Congress to bring down artificially high prices, end dependence on oil

Paterson, NJ - Today, New Jersey's U.S. Senators, Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ8), spoke out about the need to implement the plan currently before the U.S. Senate that would address out-of-control gas prices. Both Senators are co-sponsors of the Consumer-First Energy Act, a bill to address the root causes of artificially-high gas prices, protect consumers from price gouging and force oil companies to change their ways. It was blocked by Republicans in the Senate last week, but Senators Menendez and Lautenberg and their colleagues remain hopeful that pressure stemming from the public's frustration over gas prices will help the bill's prospects in the near future. The New Jersey Senators also support additional legislation blocked by the Republicans last week that would spur development of renewable energy and help end the nation's dependence on oil in the long run.

"We have to ensure that our government is working for the families of this country, not for the oil companies and oil traders who have the power to push gas prices artificially high," said Senator Menendez. "The dramatic increase in oil prices has brought prices for food up along with it, and families are facing a painful financial choice when it comes time to fill up - do they buy a gallon of gasoline or a gallon of milk? Some families have already eliminated non-essentials and many are now cutting back on meals. Some people are even contemplating quitting their jobs because they can't afford the gas to get there. We're confident that the continuing public outcry about artificially high prices will spur a reversal by those who have sided with Big Oil. We'll be keeping the pressure on for change, because we know that's the only way to take the pressure off of New Jersey families."

"President Bush has sat on his hands as oil prices have gone through the roof," said Senator Lautenberg. "We Democrats have had enough and we are pushing an aggressive plan to bring down gas prices. The Republicans and the big oil companies are trying to block our efforts, but we will not give up this fight. Families should not have to choose between filling their stomachs or filling their gas tanks."

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez
June 16, 2008
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Congressman Bill Pascrell joined Sens. Menendez and Lautenberg to support the legislation: "With record gas prices forcing working class families and small businesses to struggle, Congress has worked to provide short term relief and new energy opportunities for future generations of Americans," stated Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08). "Despite the progress we've made, much work remains. I will continue demanding accountability from the OPEC nations, checking oil speculators who inflate prices and advocating for innovative mass transportation opportunities and more energy efficient fuel choices."

When the Consumer-First Energy Act came to the Senate floor last week, Senate Republicans used a tactic to require 60 votes to proceed to a final vote. It did garner support from a majority of the Senate but did not reach the 60-vote mark. The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act - a bill to free America from oil dependency by creating tax incentives for investment and helping individuals, property owners and businesses - met the same fate last week but is likely to be brought up again before the Senate tonight.

The Consumer First Energy Act includes provisions to:

• Protect families from price gouging by giving the administration authority to levy stiff penalties and expediting cases against oil companies before the Federal Trade Commission;
• Ensure that oil companies raking in record profits pay their fair share with a tax on excessive profits, unless an they invest in renewable fuel, and by rolling back $17 billion in tax breaks to oil companies to be invested in consumer price protection, renewable fuels and energy efficiency;
• Stop oil traders from inflating the price of oil by preventing them from evading American reporting requirements and increasing the authority of the Federal Trade Commission;
• Stand up to price fixing among OPEC nations by giving the Attorney General additional authority.

The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act includes provisions to:

• Create renewable energy incentives by providing almost $20 billion of tax incentives for investment in renewable energy related to energy production, transportation and domestic fuel security, and energy conservation and efficiency;
• Plug-in electric drive vehicle credit. To encourage further investments in advanced technology vehicles, H.R. 6049 would establish a new credit for each qualified plug-in electric drive vehicle placed in service during each taxable year by a taxpayer. The base amount of the credit is $3,000.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez
June 16, 2008
Page 3
• Allowance for property to produce cellulosic alcohol. Under current law, taxpayers are allowed to immediately write off 50 percent of the cost of facilities that produce cellulosic ethanol if such facilities are placed in service before January 1, 2013. To promote technology-neutral policies, H.R. 6049 would allow this write-off to be available for the production of other cellulosic biofuels in addition to cellulosic ethanol.

• Biodiesel production tax credit and renewable diesel tax credit. To encourage the development and use of biodiesel and renewable diesel incentives, H.R. 6049 would extend the $1 per gallon production tax credits for biodiesel and the small biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon. The bill would also extend the $1 per gallon production tax credit for diesel fuel created from biomass.

• Incentives for idling reduction units and advanced insulation for heavy trucks. Because idling of the main drive engine of heavy trucks consumes significant amounts of fuel, H.R. 6049 would provide an exemption from the heavy vehicle excise tax for the cost of idling reduction units. The bill would also exempt the installation of advanced insulation, which can reduce the need for energy consumption by transportation vehicles carrying refrigerated cargo.

• Fringe benefit for bicycle commuters. Bicycle commuting achieves both goals of reducing fossil fuel reliance and encouraging conservation. H.R. 6049 would allow employers to provide employees who commute to work using a bicycle limited fringe benefits to offset the costs of such commuting.

• Alternative refueling stations tax credit. Widespread adoption of advanced technology and alternative-fuel vehicles is necessary to transform automotive transportation in the United States to be cleaner, more fuel efficient, and less reliant on petroleum fuels. H.R. 6049 would increase the 30 percent alternative refueling property credit (capped at $30,000) to 50 percent (capped at $50,000). The credit provides a tax credit to businesses (e.g., gas stations) that install alternative fuel pumps, such as fuel pumps that dispense E85 fuel.