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As Oil Prices Rise, Beware Familiar Refrain of ‘Drill Baby Drill’

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program

WASHINGTON - Gasoline prices are rising, averaging 41 cents higher a gallon than
last year, so once again we are hearing the familiar refrain that this
means we need to drill more.

 Not surprisingly, we are hearing this from incoming Republicans who
will now be running the U.S. House of Representatives. They are eager to
find any excuse to support the agenda of the oil industry, which is to
have increased access to land for drilling purposes and to preserve
lucrative tax breaks and subsidies.


We cannot drill our way to low prices. And as we have seen with past
price spikes, the industry’s tax breaks serve only to pad their profits,
not keep prices down. In the name of deficit reduction, Congress is
about to consider cutting services that provide benefits to tens of
millions of Americans. There is no excuse for even considering cuts to
vital services to poor and working Americans while the oil industry
continues to claim more than $5 billion a year in tax breaks.


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 Market speculation almost assuredly has played a role in rising gas
prices. We haven’t yet reregulated these markets, and we need to.

 Despite the BP disaster, Congress still hasn’t passed a spill bill
that would require offshore drilling to be safer for the environment,
protect workers or ensure that oil companies – not the American taxpayer
– are financially responsible for oil spills. Lawmakers should be
focusing on that instead of throwing more bones to the industry.

 As prices rise, lawmakers also should consider a windfall profits
tax. The money should be used to pay for clean energy, energy efficiency
and mass transit. If we invested adequately in such alternative energy
sources, we wouldn’t have to hear that familiar refrain when oil prices
go up.


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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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