Gasoline Prices: New Legislation and Proposals [January 10, 2006]   [open pdf - 77KB]

"The high price of gasoline was an important consideration during the debate on major energy legislation, which ended August 8 as the President signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, H.R. 6 (P.L. 109-58). However, prices continued to surge, spiking at the end of August when Hurricane Katrina shut down refining operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The continuing crisis renewed attention to some issues that were dropped or compromised in the debate over P.L. 109-58. A large number of factors combined to put pressure on gasoline prices, including increased world demand for crude oil and U.S. refinery capacity inadequate to supply gasoline to a recovering national economy. The war and continued violence in Iraq added uncertainty and a threat of supply disruption that added pressure particularly to the commodity futures markets. […] The gasoline price surge influenced the debate over P.L. 109-58, but the urgency of previous energy crises was lacking. In part, this may be due to the fact that there has been no physical shortage of gasoline or lines at the pump. In addition, the expectation of former crises -- that prices were destined to grow ever higher -- has not been prevalent. However, the persistence of high gasoline and oil prices into a second summer has raised alarms over the economic consequences of the situation, heightened following the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina. Another post-Katrina issue is the widespread suggestion that price gouging occurred in the surge in gasoline prices following the disaster."

Report Number:
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB10134
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