Are State Lawmakers Doing Anything to Provide Gas Price Relief?

By: Whitney Daniel
By: Whitney Daniel

Knoxville (WVLT) - There hasn't been a new oil refinery built in the U.S. since 19-76, and almost 200 have closed down. It's one reason experts say America's gas prices are climbing.

Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel takes a look at what lawmakers are doing to help curb the crunch at the pump.

Federal lawmakers made a move Tuesday when the U.S. House passed a bill that amends the Sherman Anti-trust Act to apply regular American anti-trust laws to foreign oil producers, like OPEC.

It's a small step into a future where we aren't paying more than three dollars for a gallon of gasoline.

"It's a free market out there, and they just do what they want with it," driver Judson George said.

Judson George has it right -- oil companies have the most control.

"As far as I'm concerned, they're ripping the public off, they're greedy, they've posted record profits," state senator Tim Burchett said.

But if lawmakers have their way, that won't continue, but on the state level they don't have many options. Either lower the gas tax:

"If we do that, we wouldn't be able to maintain our roads," Burchett said.

Or raise it.

"When you keep increasing the price of gasoline it's going to get to the point where it hurts us and our ability to draw people into our state," Rep. Stacey Campfield said.

Neither option is likely to pass without controversy. One thing everyone seems to agree on is something needs to change.

"We have been greatly taken advantage of by OPEC, and they've been able to do it because the environmental extremists have not allowed expansion of our refineries or of our oil production," Rep. Jimmy Duncan said.

Congressman Jimmy Duncan says increasing domestic production and speeding up the process for new refineries could help in the long run.

"If we don't start doing some of those things now, two or three or five years from now, you're going to see prices that make these current prices look like bargains," Duncan said.

Local drivers say every little step lawmakers can take helps.

"Any kind of legislation that will hold it down, put a cap on it, we just need some kind of cap," George said.

Lawmakers on both levels say nothing can be done overnight, but anything done sooner than later can help fuel the fire for lowering that price in the future.

For example, in the current budget, the state has allocated $20 million to study and get online with a product called Switchgrass. It's an effort that could cut fuel production in half, which can cut the cost at the pump as well.

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  • by jym Location: east tn on May 23, 2007 at 02:20 PM
    as gas prices rise more and more people are having to decide if spending $100 a week on gas to get to a job where they bring home about $250 a week. we are working half the week to pay taxes and gas to work. add in the child care and a single parent is working 40 hours and coming out about $50 a week ahead, and had to quit their second job cause it was part time and now 4 hours a day wont hardly pay for the gas to get there and back
  • by jake Location: Texas on May 23, 2007 at 08:18 AM
    Once Texas had an organization called the railroad commission that limited domestic crude oil extraction production and its world wide export from the USA to maintain oil at a certain agreed upon price point. Once our own oil fields started going into major decline that organization became irrelevant. Most of the oil fields that the current oil exporting countries use to extract oil and natural gas are now over 50 years old and there own domestic populations are using ever more oil and natural gas leaving less for export. Time will tell if OPEC is now also entering its own time of irrelevancy.
  • by Gail Location: Jamestown tn. on May 22, 2007 at 11:38 PM
    We have to drive 50 miles here just to go to work because all of our factories have left. I believe since the oil companies are grtting rich on what they are producing it is not costing them that much to make the gas it is time for goverment to put a cap on what they can carge. Or why can.t any other company raise their prises way beyond what we can afford to psy if we have to have it.I would rather they would rashon gas and give us what we need to get to work and keep it where we can afford to buy it. I really dont know haw much longer we will be able to go with these prices and the miles we drive and the money we make. we make less money here than most states.
  • by Dora on May 22, 2007 at 11:14 PM
    I don't think any one is doing enough stop the escalaing gas prices. It is already hurting us. We who have to work, have no choice but to pay the high prices they choose to charge us. Very much like KUB.


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