An Energy Bill That Puts Consumers Last

Washington, D.C., May 14, 2008—As prices for oil and gas
rise to record levels, members of Congress have responded with an energy bill
that, while ostensibly intended to provide relief to consumers, would increase
regulation, decrease flexibility and do nothing to increase affordable energy
supplies, according to a new study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

In the new OnPoint analysis “The Consumer-Last Energy Bill: A Critical Look
at the Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008
,” authors Iain
Murray and Eli Lehrer dissect the latest energy legislation
being sponsored Harry Reid (D-NV), Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA),
among others.

current energy crisis needs to be addressed by increasing the supply of energy worldwide.
Instead, the proposed bill relies on punishment of energy suppliers who are
themselves constrained by legislation in what they can do to increase supply,”
write CEI Senior Fellows Iain Murray
and Eli Lehrer. “At a time when the nation is facing massively increased energy
costs and income and credit availability are being squeezed, American citizens
deserve better from their representatives in Congress.”

“The Consumer-Last Energy Bill”
refutes the case for a windfall profits tax on oil companies, comparing the
industry’s recent past with the more-profitable performance of the health care and
retail sectors. The study also reminds policymakers of the highly distributed
ownership of major energy companies and the impact a discriminatory tax would
have on the financial well-being of the average investor.

Murray and Lehrer also refute charges
of price gouging and damaging market speculation by oil companies in times of
tight supplies. Charges of gouging have, upon investigation, repeatedly failed
to hold up, most recently in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Moreover,
proposals to curb “speculation” would only make prices more volatile and drive
investment capital out of the U.S.
without easing prices for consumers.

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