Corker signs on to bill aimed at reducing gas prices

Hank Hayes • Jun 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker announced Thursday his support of a new bill aimed at easing gas price pain, but admitted the legislation has no significant bipartisan support yet.

“My guess is we will have a number of Democrats who will join us (in co-sponsoring the legislation),” the Tennessee Republican said in a conference call with reporters.

Corker, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he joined more than 40 Republicans signing on to the “Gas Price Reduction Act” and indicated it could be debated in the Senate after the July Fourth recess.

Corker described the bill as a “very narrow package” that did not contain controversial measures such as drilling for oil in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge.

He said the legislation’s main provisions call for:

•Allowing states to explore for deep sea oil and natural gas 50 miles or more from the U.S. coast, “which could provide America with billions of barrels of oil and boost state budgets by billions of dollars for conservation.”

•Tapping America’s western oil shale resources. The bill would repeal a federal moratorium to tap states like Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. American oil shale resources could generate 800 billion to 2 trillion barrels of oil, more than three times the reserves of Saudi Arabia, Corker said.

•Providing direct loans for advanced vehicle fuel cell battery manufacturing facilities, and encouraging the federal government to increase its purchases of plug-in hybrid vehicles.

•Directing the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets to study the international regulation of commodities markets. “A great deal of attention has been given to the possible role of speculation in the oil markets,” Corker explained. “This bill provides the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with 100 additional employees to increase market surveillance and collect data to maximize transparency and ensure the integrity of the markets. Since the CFTC was created in 1974, the volume on futures exchanges has grown 8,000 percent while CFTC staff has decreased 12 percent. Adding 100 employees to the CFTC will be akin to adding 100 cops on the beat.”

Corker said he believes America should use oil as a bridge to other energy sources.

“I believe the real solution to the energy needs in this country really involve technology. ... This country has to have a sense of urgency about moving ahead with technology that will move us away from fossil fuels,” he stressed. “The reality is we cannot make the transition to alternatives overnight.”

For more about Corker go to http://corker.senate.gov.

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