U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on the Judiciary
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman
For immediate release Contact: Jeff Lungren/ Terry Shawn
March 29, 2001 (202) 225-2492
Sensenbrenner Statement on FTC Report on
Midwest Gas Prices
WASHINGTON, D.C. - House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) released the following statement regarding the Federal
Trade Commission's report to be officially released tomorrow investigating possible illegal gas price gouging last summer in the Midwest:
Last June 7th, Chairman Hyde and I became the first Members of Congress to request that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the high price of gasoline in the Midwest. The FTC now is releasing the results of the investigation that we requested.
At the time, the previous Administration's EPA vehemently denied that its reformulated gasoline program had anything to do with the price spikes. According to Clinton EPA Assistant Administrator Robert Perciasepe's testimony before the Judiciary Committee last June: "In the following testimony I will show that the cost of producing RFG does not account for the extremely high price differentials we have seen in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas." In fact, the FTC has found just the opposite: RFG was a major contributing factor to the price spikes.
That is just what I and other representatives from the Midwest were saying at the time. Despite our repeated requests for temporary relief from RFG requirements, the Clinton Administration obstinately refused to provide any waivers for the Milwaukee and Chicago areas, in spite of the fact waivers were repeatedly granted for St. Louis consumers.
Today's report shows that the previous administration's curt dismissal of our requests for help stuck Midwest drivers with last summer's high gas prices at the pumps. Looking forward, I'm happy to report that based on a meeting two weeks ago with new EPA Administrator Whitman, I believe that Midwest consumers will no longer receive the cold shoulder from administration officials and that there will be a new flexibility in dealing with this issue that hits working families particularly hard. I know that my constituents in Wisconsin will welcome this new administration's awareness for how Washington regulations affects citizens' pocketbooks at the gas pump.
It is unacceptable to burden Midwest consumers with costly and unreasonable regulations. As the FTC has found, that is the primary problem here. However, oil companies should not misconstrue the ramifications of this report. We will continue to watch their behavior closely, and if they step out of line, they will regret it.