John Proos: Action needed to reduce gas pricesPublished 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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