New Jersey - The ongoing crisis in Libya and the Middle East - as well as unchecked energy speculation -are driving gas prices higher and causing pain at the pump for New Jersey families and small businesses, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D - New Jersey) said today. The average price for a gallon of gas in New Jersey is currently $3.61, according to the AAA. That's up almost 20 cents from prices just one month ago.
Menendez released a new analysis showing how the rising gas prices will impact families heading to the beach, workers commuting to the office, or someone just going to the movies. For instance, families heading to Cape May for a weekend trip will spend 28 percent more in 2011 than they did in 2010 - and that's before they even arrive at the beach.
A year after the largest oil spill in history, with oil companies reaping massive profits without reducing gas prices for families, enjoying taxpayer's subsidies and doing nothing to help balance the budget, one thing is clear: Big Oil is Not on Our Side - it is not on New Jerseyans' side.
PAIN AT THE PUMP: THE RISING COST OF COMMON NEW JERSEY TRIPS
(Source: Gas prices from AAA; Analysis completed by the Office of Senator Menendez)
Menendez also discussed his energy plan to help ease energy prices -- a series of steps to help lower gas prices and promote the United States' long-term energy security. In addition to calling on the President to release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Reserve, Menendez is calling for a new crackdown on energy speculation, keeping American oil in America, increasing incentives for clean energy technology, such as natural gas and electric vehicles, among other ideas (Full Menendez Plan Attached).
Sen. Menendez said, "We have to help struggling families now and prevent our economy from falling backwards into a recession. It's simply wrong for New Jersey families to feel pain at the pump while oil companies do nothing and continue to reap the tax benefits that put our future economic security in jeopardy. A year after the largest spill in history, it is clear: Big Oil is Not on Our Side. The steps I have proposed will ease the burden on already struggling families now while we continue working to win the future."
Menendez Plan to Ease Rising Gas Prices
1. Release 50 million gallons of oil from the Strategic Petroleum to help lower prices: President Obama to release the oil and invest the profits raised from selling the reserves to reduce the deficit and invest in technologies that will decrease our oil dependence.
2. Rein in Speculation That Drives up Oil Prices: Senator Menendez is pushing to reduce incentives for excessive speculation on oil prices, and thereby reduce volatility in the price of gas. This package calls on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to increase the minimum margin requirements on speculators (not legitimate hedgers such as businesses like airlines that hedge fuel prices). Dodd-Frank gave the CFTC authority to rein in speculation, but the commission has not yet finalized new rules, leaving the exchanges to continue to regulate themselves. That's how speculators can buy $100 worth of oil futures with just $6 down, while legitimate investors have to put down 50% to buy stock.
3. Keep American Oil in America: More than 2.5 million barrels of U.S.-produced crude oil and petroleum products are sent abroad each day. This legislation keeps that oil supply here at home, not sent to the other side of the world
4. End Billions in Tax Breaks for Big Oil: This legislation would repeal numerous taxpayer giveaways and save taxpayers over $17 billion over the next 5 years.
5. Increase Incentives for the Adoption of Natural Gas Vehicles: Menendez will introduce bipartisan legislation to support the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and increase our energy security.
6. Accelerate Electric Vehicle Deployment: Menendez supports legislation that would increase incentives for electric vehicle purchases, promote the deployment of charging infrastructure, help coordinate and develop model electric vehicle communities, provide technical assistance to communities nationwide to plan for electrification, and increase electric vehicle research and development funding.
7. Ratchet Down Ethanol Subsidies and Ethanol Tariffs: Menendez believes ethanol tariffs prevent Americans from accessing the cheapest ethanol on the market. The Senator proposes cutting the ethanol subsidy for corn ethanol and the tariff over 5 years to 20 cents per gallon. This proposal is estimated to save the federal government over $11 billion over the next 5 years.
8. Raise Fuel Economy Standards to 60 Miles Per Gallon By 2025: Senator Menendez supports raising fuel economy standards to 60 mpg by 2025. By increasing fuel economy standards to 60 mpg, Americans will save a whopping 2.87 million barrels of oil per day by 2030. At today's oil prices, that amounts to nearly $300 million dollars per day that Americans can keep for themselves rather than send overseas or pad the profits of oil companies.
9. Set Aggressive Fuel Efficiency Targets for Medium and Heavy Vehicles and Improve Efficiency for Non-Road Transportation: Senator Menendez is calling on the Obama Administration to set fuel economy standards at a standard of 15.8 mpg by 2030, up from a current efficiency of 9.7 mpg, and heavy-duty trucks could reach 10.4 mpg, up from 6.5 mpg today. Combined, these measures would save 2.145 mbpd, reducing projected demand by 10% in 2030. At current oil prices this is the equivalent of over $200 million per day.
10. Expand Transit Use: Menendez proposes making an immediate $2 billion investment in our struggling transit systems to lower fares and maintain service. This joint step would lower consumers' overall transportation costs by decreasing congestion and gas prices for freight and passenger vehicles on our roadways. Doubling transit ridership would result in more than 0.2 mbpd savings in 2030.
11. Use It Or Lose It On Federal Leases To Spur Oil Production: Senator Menendez plans to reintroduce the Use It or Lose It legislation to spur oil companies to develop the over 60 million acres of federal land they currently lease, but have not developed to produce oil. While some are calling for opening up more federal lands for drilling, the oil companies have failed to explain why they have not produced on over three-quarters (or 60 out of the 79 million acres) of federal lands and waters they currently lease.