For weeks now, my Assembly minority colleagues and I have been fighting to bring relief for New Yorkers who have been financially squeezed by soaring gas prices. Today, the State Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill to cap the state sales tax on gasoline which means that once enacted, New Yorkers can expect savings of up to ten cents per gallon.
I want you all to know that I have heard your calls for reform on this issue, which is why the fight to end your pain at the pump is not over. The gas tax relief is a good first step towards achieving our goals, but more needs to be done in transitioning the state away from fossil fuels and towards energy independence.
I have proposed the implementation of the Alternative Fuel Incentive Fund which is designed to accelerate the use of alternative energy fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel. I believe the strength of our communities and Western New York depends heavily on this transition.
Accelerating the transition to alternative fuels would lower fuel costs through lessened demand for gasoline, as well as provide for a cleaner environment, more agricultural and manufacturing jobs, and greater national security through greater energy independence.
Our region has the resources, workers, and strength to lead New York state into the future with the production of alternative energies. Recently, I joined Governor Pataki in Shelby, Orleans County, for the announcement of the stateís first ethanol refinery to be built right here in our community. The refinery will bring new jobs to our region, stimulate the agriculture industry, and set a standard for other refineries yet to be built in this State.
The importance of todayís legislative achievement should not be understated, however, the only way to totally ease pain at the pump, is by transitioning to alternative fuels and ending addiction to foreign oil. With the tax relief in place, we can now focus on setting a national standard to follow for successful implementation of programs and policies targeted at the development and use of alternative energies.