April 8, 2009
Press Release
Congressman Ken Calvert today supported two bills designed to offset high gasoline prices.

H.R. 5253 requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to clearly define "price gouging" as well as institute new civil penalties for convicted price gougers. The bill passed by a vote of 339 to 84.

H.R. 5254, the Refinery Permit Process Schedule Act, would have improved the permitting process and established regulatory certainty for companies as they make long-term decisions to expand refining capacity. H.R. 5254 was defeated even though a majority of the House (237 members) voted in favor of the bill since the conditions under which it was brought to the floor required a two-thirds majority for passage. 224 Republican Representatives supported the bill while 2 opposed it. 13 Democrat Representatives supported the bill while 185 members, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer opposed H.R. 5254.

"Anyone convicted of price gouging should face real and serious consequences just like all other criminals. I am pleased that Congress has taken action to clearly define what constitutes gasoline price gouging and enacted penalties to hold retailers and wholesalers accountable. At the same time, I am disappointed that the Democrats decided to put partisan politics ahead of the public interest and defeated a bill that would help alleviate the tight supply of gasoline in California. Increased domestic refining capacity is essential and the best way Congress can help is to streamline the regulatory process to encourage companies to invest in expanding existing or building new refineries, " said Calvert.

Gasoline prices are reaching near-record levels, due to supply and demand as well as geopolitics. According to the California Department of Energy, overall gasoline refinery production is not keeping pace with demand, which causes our state to rely on more imported gasoline. California currently imports more than 10 percent of its gasoline, and those imports are expected to grow to about 20 percent by 2010.

No new refinery has been built in the United States in 30 years. Oil companies cite regulatory uncertainty as one of the reasons they forgo adding refining capacity in the United States. The Refinery Permit Process Schedule Act would establish regulatory certainty for companies as they make long-term decisions to expand refining capacity, removing one key stumbling block to expansion