(Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (WA-05) today voted for two energy bills to help provide relief for high gas prices. The Federal Energy Price Protection Act (H.R. 5253) prohibits price gouging, and the Refinery Permit Process Schedule Act (H.R. 5254) helps increase domestic oil supply by expanding U.S. refining capacity.
“Over the past 30 years we have become more dependent on foreign oil without looking for ways to increase our domestic energy supply,” said McMorris. “We will not be able to solve this problem overnight, but is time we take proactive steps to address high gas prices and look at both short and long-term solutions. These two bills serve as starting points for our long journey towards energy independence. Protecting consumers and increasing our domestic oil supply are two important components of a comprehensive energy plan.”
The Federal Energy Price Protection Act protects American consumers by ensuring there is no price manipulation of gasoline, diesel fuel, crude oil, home heating oil, and biofuels. It directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to define “price gouging,” provides for strong civil enforcement by the FTC and by states’ attorney general, and provides for criminal enforcement by the U.S. attorney general and the Department of Justice. Civil penalties for price-gouging will be to pay three times the ill-gotten gains of the seller, plus up to $3 million per day of continuing violation. Criminal penalties will include fines up to $150 million and/or imprisonment for up to two years.
The Refinery Permit Process Schedule Act addresses the need for new refinery capacity and supports the development of renewable motor fuels that can be produced from the nation’s agricultural, forestry, and other biomass resources. A new refinery has not been built in the United States for over 30 years, yet the demand for fuel has increased, causing increased dependence on foreign oil. Total capacity at operating refineries is roughly 17 million barrels a day, while total U.S. consumption averages nearly 21 million barrels a day. The bill helps increase our domestic oil supply by establishing a federal coordinator so permit decisions can move efficiently, eliminating bureaucratic delays in the permitting process, giving EPA priority in the scheduling coordination, and directing the president to identify at least three closed military bases that are suitable sites for new refineries, one of which must be designated for biofuel refining.