Official Responses

In case anyone was wondering, yes I absolutely did write to elected officials regarding gas prices.  And, in the interest of resolving the curiosity of anyone following along, I will provide to you the responses.  Today I received emails from the White House and Senator Richard Durbin.  For anyone wondering, I am not naive enough to expect the responses were written by Barack Obama or Richard Durbin but I found the responses moderately interesting anyway.  So, without further adieu…

*****

Thank you for contacting me about fuel pricing. I appreciate hearing from you.

I, too, am concerned about the way fuel prices fluctuate from day to day, from city to city, and between different types of fuels. While some of the variations are the product of our market economy, many of the fluctuations raise serious concerns.

At the wholesale level, prices are affected by actions in the “futures” market. These prices are affected by global supply and demand, actions of the major oil-exporting countries, assessments of the stability or instability of those countries, and the actions and reactions of the major oil companies.

At the retail level, the major oil companies, independent sellers, and individual gas station owners all play a part in how prices are set and how they fluctuate. For example, the major oil companies have a hand in how individual retailers who are affiliated with them set their prices.

Many experts are concerned that there is ample room for price manipulation in the marketplace, which can have a substantial effect on prices at the pump. In the past, I have cosponsored legislation and supported other efforts to increase transparency in oil and gasoline pricing, which would encourage a fairer marketplace with more stable prices at the pump. I will continue to fight for these goals.

The interplay between supply and demand in the market is also causing differences between the way gasoline, ethanol, and diesel prices change. Last year, as ethanol demand increased, ethanol prices also climbed. Many more ethanol refineries are now becoming operational in Illinois and throughout the Midwest, which may help moderate prices. Agricultural conditions can also affect ethanol prices.

Diesel prices may not move in concert with gasoline prices because diesel is made in a separate stream of the crude oil refining process, a stream that can also be refined into heating oil or diverted to other uses. Rapidly industrializing countries like China have growing trucking needs, which is increasing worldwide demand for diesel and driving up diesel prices.

I am concerned that American consumers may not be receiving the lowest fuel prices they would receive in a truly free market, in part because of mergers among the large oil companies, which have weakened real competition and the accompanying pressure to lower prices and profits. This allows five enormous oil companies to enjoy some of the largest profits in U.S. business history without the competition that would force a moderation in their pricing.

I will keep your concerns in mind as Congress attempts to develop a more sensible national energy policy.

Thank you again for your message. Please feel free to keep in touch.

 Sincerely,
Richard J. Durbin
 
United States Senator

*****

Thank you for writing. I appreciate hearing from you, and I share the vision of millions of Americans who want to secure our Nation’s energy future. We must seize this important opportunity to create new jobs and industries, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and protect the public health and our environment. My Administration’s energy plan relies on harnessing the resources we have available, embracing a diverse energy portfolio, and becoming a global leader in developing new sources of clean energy.

I understand the impact gas prices have on families and businesses across our country, and that is why I am committed to developing our capacity for domestic energy production. My Administration is working to expand responsible oil and gas development in the United States, ensuring this is done safely and responsibly. This includes a focus on natural gas, while also building production capacity for biofuels.

In addition to increased domestic energy production, my plan calls for a reduction in demand of foreign oil. Since transportation is responsible for 70 percent of our petroleum consumption, one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce our dependence on foreign oil is to make transportation more efficient. That is why my Administration established groundbreaking national fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, which will reduce consumption by 1.8 billion barrels of oil and save consumers thousands of dollars. We are also making investments in electric vehicles and the advanced batteries that power them to ensure high-quality, fuel-efficient cars and trucks are built right here in America.

To secure our Nation’s energy future, we also need to increase production of clean energy. I have set a goal that by 2035, 80 percent of our electricity will come from clean energy, including renewable sources like wind and solar power, nuclear energy, efficient natural gas, and clean coal. This goal is not about picking one energy source over another, but rather leveraging a broad range of sources and providing industry the flexibility to decide how best to increase their clean energy share. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also included over $90 billion in clean energy investments.

A 21st-century energy policy is an investment in our economy, national security, health, and environment. I encourage you to read more about my Administration’s blueprint for a secure energy future here: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/issues/blueprint-secure-energy-future. For more information on government grants, please visit e-center.doe.gov.

Thank you, again, for writing.

 Sincerely,
Barack Obama

 *****

Both letters do somewhat address my original letter but both are most certainly a canned response as I am sure they are receiving many similar bits of correspondence by email and snail mail.  I know that some people have mentioned that they don’t think it does any good.  The only thing I can say is, if these people expect to get reelected to office, they have to listen to and act on our concerns.  These are people that do not have to worry about how they will get to work tomorrow or whether they can make their mortgage payment while still feeding their children.  While I do not know if my words will ever actually reach the intended readers, I can only hope that if enough people express their concerns, feelings, and ideas that something good will come of it.

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