Cantwell Calls for Action, Slams Giveaways to Big Oil Companies as Gas Prices Rise

state drivers forced to pay $452 million more for fuel this summer

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As summer gas prices throughout the United States have reached their highest point in the last four summers, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today highlighted the impact of rising gas prices on Washington state families and called for aggressive action to lower the prices consumers pay at the pump. Washington state has the third highest gas prices in the nation.

“Gasoline and diesel prices are currently around 60 cents more than they were at this time last year, and that’s the highest that we have seen in four years,” Senator Cantwell said in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on rising oil prices. “Every gas station fill-up costs Washington drivers about eight dollars more than it did last summer. That means less take-home pay and higher retail prices for goods.”

At the hearing, Senator Cantwell called on Congress and the Trump administration to do more to reduce prices for consumers by promoting alternative fuels and competition at the pump.

“It’s very hard for us to drill our way out of this problem. The effective way to reduce our fuel costs, both nationally and individually, is to beat the OPEC monopoly with some good old-fashioned competition at the pump,” said Cantwell, going on to describe alternatives like increasing the use of domestic biofuels, pushing for more electric vehicles, and blocking Trump administration efforts to roll back vehicle efficiency standards. “Americans should be able to fill up with home-grown biofuels instead of the Saudi or Russian crude, and we should continue to push for electric vehicles and lower operating costs for our consumers.”

Specifically, Cantwell highlighted several areas for actions to lower gas prices:

  • Promoting alternatives to gasoline, like domestic biofuels and electric cars and trucks
  • Maintaining existing fuel economy standards
  • Stabilizing foreign policy to avoid disrupting world oil markets
  • Policing oil futures markets to ensure they are free from manipulation

Cantwell also pointed to the failures of the recent Republican tax bill, questioning the return Americans got for the $4 billion in new tax breaks gifted to big oil companies.

“So what did we get out of the four billion dollar tax break in the tax plan that [was given to] oil companies?” Senator Cantwell asked. “I don’t think that’s fair use of the taxpayer money to give these oil companies a huge tax break, and now we’re seeing a spike in prices.”

Senator Cantwell’s remarks at today’s hearing come as the average price of gas in Washington state has climbed to $3.41, a 60 cent – or 21 percent – increase over last summer. The average price of diesel has reached $3.56, a 74 cent – or 26 percent – increase over last summer. These price run-ups mean the typical Washington state family will pay $149 more this summer for fuel than last summer.

TV-Quality video of Senator Cantwell’s Q&A at today’s hearing can be found HERE, a YouTube link is available HERE, and audio can be found HERE.