Further action to rein in energy speculation needed

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By Congressman Virgil Goode

In recent months, we have heard about speculators being one of the things that has driven up the price of oil on the world market, resulting in higher gasoline prices in the United States. To address unbridled speculation, the House of Representatives has passed a bill called the Energy Markets Emergency Act. This bill passed 402-to-19; I voted for it.

The legislation directs the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to use all of its authority, including its emergency powers, to: (1) curb immediately the role of excessive speculation in any contract market within its jurisdiction and control on or through which energy futures or swaps are traded; and (2) eliminate excessive speculation, price distortion, sudden or unreasonable fluctuations or unwarranted changes in prices, or other unlawful activity that is causing major market disturbances that prevent the market from accurately reflecting the forces of supply and demand for energy commodities.

I believe that further action should be taken to rein in rampant speculation, but this bill is a step in the right direction. My hope is that the Senate will act on this bill so that it will become law.

Another bill that was passed by the House on a vote of 360-to-23 is the Preserve America and Save America’s Treasures Act. I voted for this bill.

Many jurisdictions in the Fifth District have significant historical structures. It is the aim of this legislation to establish the Preserve America Program, under which the Secretary of the Interior, in partnership with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, shall provide competitive grants to specified entities to support preservation efforts through heritage tourism, education, and historic preservation planning activities. The bill also establishes the Save America's Treasures Program, under which the Secretary shall provide grants to eligible entities for projects to preserve nationally significant collections and historic properties. To be eligible for a competitive grant, the collection or historic property must be nationally significant and threatened or endangered. Historic properties must be listed on the National Register of Historic Places or be designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The House was unwise in passing legislation that purports to address saving energy through the use of public transportation. The flaw in the bill is that better than 80 percent of the funding included in it goes to subways and rail transportation. It does not include money to help fund the cost of fuel for school buses, which is taking a severe toll on the budgets of cities and counties in the Fifth District. In fact, it prohibited funds going to aid school districts. For this reason, I voted against this bill.

Instead, I supported the motion to recommit, which, had it passed, would have required the House to include financial assistance to school districts for running their bus routes. One of my colleagues spoke of the hardship that high fuel prices are placing on local budgets, saying, “The impact has been particularly severe not only on farms, families and small businesses, but also on our local governments that are having to pay sky-high fuel prices to maintain basic services.” He went on to cite several instances around the country, including Franklin County in the Fifth District; he pointed to published reports that said that Franklin County school officials have told the Board of Supervisors that fuel costs may mean spending as much as $690,000 more in the coming school year.

The House is not being realistic about our energy needs. It is time for America to start drilling and producing more of our own oil and natural gas so that we can control our future and not be at the whim of foreign nations, many of which are not our friends.

Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you. You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.