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John Proos: Action needed to reduce gas prices

Published 2:16pm Friday, July 12, 2013

By Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph

In four years, Southwest Michigan families have seen the price they pay at the pump double, and Michigan recently had the dubious distinction of having the highest gasoline prices in the continental United States.
The high price of gas impacts everyone. Volatile gas prices that can shoot up 30 cents overnight make it difficult for Michigan families to live within a budget.
High prices also directly affect our tourism industry, which is a vital part of the Southwest Michigan economy. When fuel prices force families to adjust their budget for getting to work, resulting in the cancellation or scaling back of the summer vacation — it starts to impact the thousands of jobs dependent on a strong summer tourism season.
I recently co-sponsored Senate Resolution 72 urging Congress to investigate the high price of gasoline in Michigan and to identify long-term solutions to sustain lower gasoline prices in the state and nationally.
Congress should also act on a solution that will meet our needs, reduce prices and also create jobs: the Keystone pipeline.
The pipeline project can supply the energy to a recovering economy, replace roughly 40 percent of the oil the U.S. currently imports from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela and create thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs.
Let’s look to our Canadian friends to help put Michigan back to work, meet our energy needs and reduce the cost of filling up the family car.
Increasing fuel efficiency is another way to save at the pump, and the condition of our roads has a huge impact in this endeavor.
We must fix our crumbling infrastructure, but we must do so without raising gas taxes. This is especially true with Michigan prices regularly at more than $3.50 per gallon and spiking up to $4.30 per gallon.
During a recent tele-town hall meeting with more than 8,700 participants, I asked them what they thought Michigan should do to immediately address problems with road funding. 55 percent said “more creatively utilize existing revenue.”
This is exacting what I am working to do.
Last year, the governor signed my bill to use $100 million in funds already paid by consumers at the pump and invest them in our roads. I have introduced Senate Bill 6 this year to make this reform permanent.
I also encourage Southwest Michigan residents to help in the effort against high prices by being more energy efficient and looking out for gas gouging.
Consumers who have verifiable evidence of a retailer charging a grossly inflated price are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1 (877) 765-8388 or file an online complaint at www.michigan.gov/ag.
Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien and Cass counties and most of Van Buren County. 

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  • Robert Parrish

    Senator Proos, with another heaping helping of shameless self promotion heavily sprinkled with Keystone pipeline propaganda, is once again offering delusional fixes to lower gas prices, energy independence and job creation.

    First, lower gas prices. When I began driving, gasoline was 28 cents a gallon. Since that time, more and more crude oil reserves were located and harvested. Despite the addition of these aforementioned reserves, gas prices have continued to rise. So the argument that exploiting even more avenues of crude oil reserves holds little merit.

    As for energy independence, the crude oil that is to be transported via the pipeline will originate in Canada. Canada is not our 51st state. So how will importing oil from another country, even though they are our neighbor, increase our energy independence?

    The other question to be asked is whether or not this same oil, once refined, will be earmarked for U.S. consumption? Once refined, a Canadian company will still own the rights to the product. I assume their interests will come first. After that, the remainder will be sold to the highest bidder.

    As for job creation, many reliable sources, including the Washington Post, report that the jobs at best will be short term. In a recent interview with an executive from TransCanada, the Canadian company backing the pipelines construction, admission was made that the number or jobs created would be in the hundreds, not the thousands, and most would last for a period of only one year. So,long term job growth will not occur.

    What Senator Proos, fails to mention is the environmental impact of the pipeline. This is the sticking point with the Department of State that is greatly responsible for the issuing of international permits for a Canadian company to begin construction.

    The first company the State Department hired to investigate the pipelines environmental impact was the Houston based Cardno Entrix, which was later revealed to have direct ties to TransCanada as a prior client. Members of Congress suspicious of skewed data ordered another study through the U.K based multinational organization, ERM.

    Now it comes to light that ERM, and many of its subsidiaries also have conflicts of interest with TransCanada by having business with at least twelve companies invested in the development of the Canadian tar sands, the raw product to be transferred through the pipeline. Hardly a fact that can be ignored when when trying to arrive at true unbiased facts concerning the Keystone pipelines environmental impact.

    Its time to realize that no matter how much new oil is discovered, prices for the same will not drop. History proves this. Its also time to admit the reality that U.S. energy independence cannot be obtained by exploiting the natural resources of another country. Canada is next door, but they are their own sovereign country.

    We also have to realize that as the world’s crude oil reserves continue to dwindle, that the high water mark of oil production will be met within the next year or two. After that, less and less production will occur while demand will rise. The only ones able to weather the coming storm are those that had the foresight to invest in alternative green energy.

    In my opinion, Michigan is one of the most beautiful states in the union. Its our natural resources that have continued over the years to support our number one industry, tourism. Why not invest in ourselves and not only create good long term green jobs, but also make ourselves energy independent while protecting our own natural resources?

    Robert Parrish
    Edwardsburg, Michigan

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