Walz blasts Bush over gas prices

Published 1:30 am Friday, July 4, 2008

After listening to constituent concerns from across the state about rising gas prices, 1st District Congressman Tim Walz is urging President George W. Bush to persuade oil company executives to move swiftly in lowering gas prices and help turn around the sluggish economy.

During a visit Thursday in Albert Lea at Trail’s Travel Center, Walz met with local business owners and citizens who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the high gas prices.

“Something is out of whack when hard-working Americans — whose incomes have been that — must pay for skyrocketing gas prices while major oil companies earn record profits,” Walz said.

He explained that everyone is asking what the plan is to bring stability to the markets.

People need to start with what the facts are, he said, and realize that this nation has become a fossil fuel economy.

America uses 24 percent of the world’s oil supply but only produces 2 percent, he said.

In 1961, when the steel industry increased prices and threatened the country’s economic stability, President John Kennedy asked steel manufacturers to lower their prices, Walz said. Kennedy was successful because he argued that the steel industry had “fared well in recent years.”

Bush needs to step forward and do the same.

The congressman urged Bush to help pass legislative initiatives that are being considered in Congress that are designed to address the high gas prices by restoring responsibility, fairness and consumer safeguards in the oil and gas markets. The legislation would curb reckless speculation in the oil trading markets, halt gas-price gouging and force oil companies to drill on the land they’ve already been given, he said.

“Working people, middle-class families, farmers and small businesses in southern Minnesota are feeling economic pain at the gas pump — and it hurts,” Walz said. “Locally run gas stations like the one we’re at today are not to blame for the current situation. Stations like this one can barely make a profit on a gallon of gas and are just as frustrated by this situation as the rest of us.”

He went on to talk about how the solution to the gas crisis is widespread and will not be short-term.

The president has closer ties to the oil and gas industry than any president in the nation’s history and is positioned to bring his influence on those profiting from the energy crisis, Walz said.

“I urge you to use the powers of your office to bring all interested parties together and to try and find common-sense solutions to this pressing problem,” Walz wrote in his letter to Bush.