On Friday (6/6), U.S. Senator Richard Durbin from Illinois proposed a bill to create a national Consumer and Small Business Energy Commission that would look into the causes of energy price spikes and issue recommendations on how to avert them in the future.
The Senate Democrat noted that since 1990, the price of gasoline, residential heating oil, residential natural gas, commercial natural gas, and industrial natural gas have all had significant fluctuations. Gasoline price spikes have become commonplace in the Midwest and on the West Coast.
"We are in serious need of a comprehensive investigation into these problems," said Durbin. "A variety of studies and hearings have examined pieces of this puzzle, but we need to look at the entire picture, focusing on price fluctuations of all consumer energy products. Only by putting consumers, small businesses and representatives of the energy industry and the government together at the table looking at the full range of possible causes, can we get to the real root of the problem," said Durbin.
Durbin's legislation would appoint members to the committee on a bipartisan basis by the Speaker and Majority Leader of the House and the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate, as well as the President. The Commission would be comprised of representatives of consumer groups, the energy industry, small businesses, and the U.S. Administration.
Durbin's proposal would task Commission members with examining potential causes of price fluctuations such as insufficient inventories, supply disruptions, refinery capacity limits, insufficient infrastructure, possible regulation problems, flawed deregulation, excessive consumption, over-reliance on foreign supplies, insufficient investment in research and development of alternative sources, opportunistic behavior by energy companies, and abuse of market power. The legislation would then establish an Executive Committee to issue a final report, which would include recommendations.