Pennsylvania lawmaker pushes fuel initiatives

| Thursday, February 13, 2003

Pennsylvania state Rep. Camille “Bud” George is requesting aid for truckdrivers and others relying on motor and heating fuel.

Rep. George (D-Clearfield County) is seeking co-sponsors to legislation that would enable the governor to suspend state taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel to counter skyrocketing prices.

Under the measure, Gov. Edward Rendell could sign an executive order suspending some or all of the state’s taxes on gasoline and diesel when fuel prices have increased more than 50 percent in a year or less.

“I heard from a Clearfield County trucker this week who said diesel costs $1.94 a gallon, and he and many other truckers were going to have to shut down their rigs and trucking companies by the end of the week,” George, Democratic chairman of the Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said in a statement. “Diesel prices in the Central Atlantic region, which includes Pennsylvania, hit an average of $1.80 a gallon on Monday.

“Giving the governor the flexibility to suspend state fuel taxes on fuel and releasing heating oil in the Northeast – where prices are the highest and supplies the tightest – would help stabilize prices and ease the strain on our citizens and small businessmen.”

Earlier this week, a resolution sponsored by George urging the U.S. Congress and President Bush to release fuel from the Northeast Heating Oil Reserve passed the state Senate. HR55 is headed to Congress for consideration.

“Diesel prices in the Mid-Atlantic are among the highest in the nation, and trucking companies and independent owner-operators are shutting down left and right,” George said. “Many of our most vulnerable citizens also are facing empty fuel tanks as their energy assistance funds are depleted.

“We need help now,” he said.

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