Gas prices now stand over $4 per gallon throughout much of the country, but younger Americans are particularly feeling the pain at the pump, and one of the youngest members of Congress warns that young Americans are being hit hard.
Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., a 37-year-old member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees regulations affecting the petroleum industry, told Red Alert Politics Tuesday that young Americans are particularly being hurt by the Obama administration’s energy policies.
Democrats have emphasized the need to increase fuel-efficiency standards to reduce fuel costs rather than drilling and regulatory reductions, but Gardner said that approach is foolish for young Americans who typically cannot afford the sticker prices of these proposed new vehicles with higher gas mileage.
“I think anytime that you are forcing the price of a good up on anybody, it’s insensitive to that particular consumer,” Gardner said. “I know my first car was a 1982 Buick Cutlass Supreme, and that thing was not exactly the most fuel-efficient car, but I was able to buy it for $750. And it was what got me too and from college, and certainly from work in high school.
“Again, not everybody can afford the Cadillac when something else is going to have to do.”
Gardner contends that increasing fuel standards will not mean much to the budgets of college students and recent graduates who lack the financial resources.
Democrats such as fellow committee members Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., contend that the current high gas prices are being driven up by Wall Street speculators and that increasing supply will not drive prices down.
But Gardner disagrees, saying that allowing drilling on federal land in Alaska and elsewhere, as well as off-shore drilling along with opening the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve would force the speculators to stop driving up prices.
“It makes it more difficult for speculation to have any effect on oil prices,” Gardner said. “So by increasing supply, you actually will ensure lower oil prices for current and future generations.”
Increased energy prices are also making themselves known other places in the economy where young Americans are particularly vulnerable because petroleum costs find their way into virtually every sector.
“Energy matters very much in terms of the jobs that are available to college graduates. It matters in terms of their ability to get good-paying jobs to help afford the student loans that they’re going to be paying on over the next who knows how many years,” Gardner said. “The fact that we can increase our energy opportunities in our own backyards really does matter.
“That’s why when you hear talk about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it’s important that we increase supply opportunities in our own backyards.”
Gardner has introduced legislation that would connect the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and increase leasing opportunities for granting drilling leases on federal lands, which he believes would help alleviate the supply problem.