Allen’s bills offer relief on oil prices

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PORTLAND (AP) – U.S. Rep. Tom Allen on Friday outlined four proposals that he says would provide consumers with immediate relief from rising oil prices.

Allen, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chose a gas station as the backdrop as he spelled out his plan.

“Maine drivers are out of patience with soaring prices whenever their cars and trucks are out of gas,” said Allen, D-Maine. “They want Congress to act now to provide some relief when they pull into a station like this one.”

Two of Allen’s bills would make it easier to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate energy prices. Another bill would allow eligible small businesses to claim tax credits for higher fuel costs.

Allen also vowed to “lead the charge” to roll back what he described as massive subsidies that Congress gave to big oil companies in last year’s energy bill.

“Maine consumers are fed up with paying twice for their gasoline, once at the pump and again when Congress gives their tax dollars to the richest industry on the planet,” he said.

Many consumers have expressed frustration that oil companies have been experiencing record profits at a time when motorists are suffering from sticker shock at the pumps.

The nation’s average gas price on Friday was $2.92 for a gallon of regular unleaded, according to AAA. That compares to $2.60 a month ago and $2.21 a year ago.

On Wednesday, the House passed legislation that would impose up to $150 million in penalties for energy companies found guilty of price gouging.

Price gouging proposals have been talked about in the Senate, especially among Democrats, but it’s not clear when the issue might be brought up for consideration.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee also sent letters to the country’s five biggest oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, seeking detailed information about the companies’ spending and investment priorities in light of huge profits over the past year as crude prices jumped to a recent high of more than $75 a barrel.

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