Statewide Series of Energy Hearings Set to Begin This Week

The State Assembly will hold the first in a series of public forums on September 14th in Albany
September 13, 2005

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster and Dutchess Counties) announced today that this week the State Assembly will begin a series of statewide public hearings to investigate the dramatic increase in the price of gasoline, home heating oil, natural gas and other fuels and to explore effective short-term and long-term solutions to alleviate this crisis.

The initial forum will take place on Wednesday, September 14th at 11:00 AM in Roosevelt Hearing Room C in the Legislative Office Building in Albany. The hearings are being conducted jointly by the Assembly Committees on Energy and Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee. Other dates and locations will be announced shortly.

"The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina coupled with month after month of steadily rising gas and home heating costs have raised serious questions about our energy policy," said Mr. Cahill. "It has become painfully clear that government and the private sector must take action to address these questions and to help to ease the financial burden on our citizens, businesses, municipalities, schools and health care facilities."

The Assembly hearings will examine the events that have lead up to this energy crisis, paying particular attention to the State’s ability to investigate and prosecute those who would engage in illegal profiteering in the face of a national catastrophe. The hearings will also focus on New York’s contingency plan to react and respond to the energy needs of our citizens during emergencies and natural disasters. Others areas of investigation by the committees will include an examination of the impact of increased shipping through the St. Lawrence Seaway as an alternative to the Mississippi River, the extent to which gouging has impacted gasoline prices, the need for an increase in Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) funds for low-income and senior citizens, the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the availability of both transportation fuels and heating fuels, the fiscal impact that escalating fuel prices have on the state, county and local governments, including school districts, businesses and not-for-profits and the effect of federal, state and local taxes on the price of fuels of all types.

"As one the largest states in the union, New York is in a unique position to craft a statewide energy plan that could become a nationwide model. I believe that through these hearings, the Assembly has a responsibility to take a serious look at investing in and researching alternative, sustainable fuel sources to avoid this situation in the future," concluded Assemblymember Cahill.