Energy Bills Enforce New York’s Gas Tax Cap and Go after “Big Oil” Windfall Profits
Package better protects consumers from rising prices
June 18, 2008
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced the Assembly introduced a package of energy-related bills designed to offset steadily rising and historically high fuel costs. “Fuel costs today are squeezing everybody to the point that we are approaching an economic crisis,” Jacobs said. “The Assembly Majority understands how serious this is for everyone – for families and small businesses, for the thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers struggling to pay their energy bill or just gas up their car – and that’s why we introduced this important legislation that will help alleviate some of the burden.” Forcing Major Oil Companies to Pay Up “In 2006, the Assembly passed a law capping the state sales tax on gasoline at $2 per gallon, but consumers never saw any savings. Instead, ‘Big Oil’ posted record-high profits in 2007 – raking in billions of dollars while draining the pockets of average Americans,” said Jacobs. “This is unconscionable and flat-out wrong, and the Assembly Majority has introduced critical legislation to help ensure major oil companies can’t continue to get away with ‘highway’ robbery.” The Assembly introduced legislation instituting a recapture and windfall-profit tax provision on “Big Oil” companies with a prohibition on passing the tax on to consumers (A.11590). The revenues would go to a fund that supports energy-savings measures for consumers as well as helping pay home heating bills this winter through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). The legislation:
- requires gasoline importers to pay a surcharge equal to 4 percent of the difference between the price of a gallon of gasoline and $2 per gallon; and
- prohibits the pass-through of this surcharge to consumers and provides for a civil penalty of up to $35,000 per day for any violation of this prohibition.
- li>impose a 2 percent gross-receipts tax on very large oil companies that sell their products in New York State, similar to the windfall-profit tax imposed on oil companies in the 1980s; and
- prohibit big oil companies from passing along the additional costs to customers through increases in the price of gasoline.
- ensure gasoline pumps dispense the accurate amount of fuel that a consumer is charged for by retailers, ending the phenomenon known as “pump jump” (A.11588);
- establish a Web site to inform consumers of current retail prices for all grades of gasoline and diesel fuel sold at retail outlets throughout New York State (A.11588);
- create a database, rating system and test procedures of replacement tires, helping consumers purchase the most energy-efficient tires for their cars (A.10262-B);
- allow gasoline retailers and distributors to purchase and sell unbranded motor fuel, giving consumers the option to purchase less expensive fuel (A.9073-B); and
- provide for fleet maintenance, fueling and driving regulations in order to reduce fuel consumed by New York State Office of General Services vehicles; require that all new light-duty vehicles purchased by state agencies – except for police and emergency vehicles – be alternative-fuel vehicles; and require state agencies to make cost-effective purchases of zero-emission or low-emission medium-duty vehicles (A.11589).
- create an excess-profits tax for companies that engage in gouging (K.1987);
- establish additional consumer tax credits to stimulate the creation of innovative, renewable energy technologies (K.1987); and
- provide additional funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to better serve the families that rely on the program to help meet their energy needs (K.1986).