Legislators debate action on fuel as costs increase

| Tuesday, May 02, 2006

As rising fuel costs continued to strain budgets across the nation on Tuesday, May 2, Congress continued to debate exactly what should be done about the problem.

While Congress debated, a school district in Rhea County, TN, cancelled classes on Friday, April 28, and Monday, May 2, to save money on fuel for the district’s buses.

Brad Harris, finance director for Rhea County, told “Land Line Now” that the district – which used two unused snow days for the cancellation – spent $106,000 on fuel during the 2004-2005 school year, and expects to spend between $145,000 and $150,000 this year.

While Congress debated, police in Memphis, TN, were being asked to walk as much as possible to help curb fuel use, The Tennessean newspaper reported. And they aren’t the only ones. The Cincinnati Post reported that police departments in Ohio and Kentucky are encouraging similar measures.

Meanwhile, ProMiles reported a national average price of $2.926 for diesel on May 2, up slightly from the previous day.

And, in Washington, DC, the House of Representatives is scheduled to consider two bills on Wednesday, May 3, that would establish regulations against price gouging and would help speed the licensing process for new oil refineries.

And in the Senate, Republicans planned to drop a proposed tax increase for oil companies and other manufacturers from the energy legislation package that is currently making its way through Senate committees.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-MD, said he plans to remove the tax increase after an outcry from retailers and manufacturers.

The tax money from the increase was to have funded a proposed $100 tax rebate for American taxpayers, but The Journal reported that Republicans backing the rebate are now looking for other funding options.

A spokeswoman for Frist told The Journal that the tax increase could still come back later in the year.

The energy proposal also includes a controversial provision that would allow drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and would increase funding for research into alternative fuels and give the president the authority to step up fuel economy standards for passenger cars.

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