We Need Relief from Today’s Gas Prices and Solutions for Tomorrow

April 28, 2006

Whether you are commuting to work, traveling on vacation or bringing the kids to little league, we are all paying more attention to how much gas we are using for these trips. The high gas prices have affected everything we do. With summer around the corner there seems to be no relief in sight.

According to syracusegasprices.com the average cost of a gallon of gasoline in the Syracuse area has risen 52 cents in just the last month, to a cost of $3.04 a gallon. That is a 19% increase in one month. At a time when working families are trying to make ends meet, a 19% increase in gas is too much to ask to just be ignored. We need relief, and we need it now.

At the same time we are stretching our wallets, ExxonMobil – the world’s largest oil company – just recently announced its first quarter profits are up 7% over last year, and its net income rose to $8.4 billion. On top of its record-breaking profits, ExxonMobil offered its outgoing chairman a $400 million retirement package. Enough is enough. Something must be done to curb our dependence on these big oil companies and alternative energy sources must be produced.

Long before the price of gas hit $3 a gallon, I had been pushing for legislation to help ease the burden felt at the pump. I am sponsoring legislation (A.4470) which would eliminate the state sales and compensating use tax on gasoline and diesel. Even though this would provide some immediate relief, we must work toward a long-term solution.

The President and the Republican controlled Congress have failed to provide leadership in developing a national energy plan. They must start helping the working families more and the big oil companies less. Although they have recently called for investigations into possible price gouging in the gasoline markets, more needs to be done to have a long-term national energy policy. That policy needs to address the need of breaking our dependence on oil, by starting to work on alternative forms of energy.

I have been working to help bring Northeast Biofuels to Central New York. By turning the former Miller Brewery plant into an ethanol production plant, we can start focusing on the use of renewable energy sources. This will be one of the largest ethanol facilities in the nation. By building partnerships with businesses and farmers, this new plant could be producing corn-based ethanol by 2008, and cellulosic ethanol in only a few more years.

Although there are already more than four million cars and trucks on the road that have the option of running on E85 (a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) there are only roughly 500 gas stations in the nation that sell it, and no gas stations in upstate New York that do. We must continue to look forward by providing ethanol and other alternatives at gas stations along the State Thruway, as well as looking for other outlets to provide New Yorkers with a clean, affordable renewable fuel source. The new biofuels plant and the steps being taken at the Syracuse Center of Excellence regarding alternative energies are putting New York at the forefront of advancing the renewable energies and the biofuels industry in the nation. Not only will these efforts help provide a renewable, alternative energy source, but will bring in new jobs, new businesses and a glimpse of the future to Central New York.

Unfortunately, the current administration in Washington is not looking out for the working families of New York, so we must do all we can in Albany to provide some relief at the pump. I am fighting to do all I can at the State level to work in a bi-partisan fashion to find a solution and deliver relief today. It is time to end all the rhetoric and political grandstanding and time to start working for a solution.