War of Words Ramps Up over High Gas Prices

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With the 2011 summer driving season just one week away, the war against high gas prices is ramping up in the nation's capital.
 
Americans are now paying more than $4 a gallon in many parts of the country and Washington has done little to bring prices down.

The big question for this summer is how consumers will respond to the rising gas prices. Many experts believe they will simply drive less.
     
What's perhaps even more unclear is whether lawmakers in Washington can agree on anything to help fix this long-term crisis.

"Energy independence means we need to deploy our full spectrum of energy resources here in the U.S. That means we should be drilling, going after natural gas, hydrogen power," Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., said.

Republicans like West want to increase drilling here at home and the pursuit of other energy sources.
    
Even President Obama is talking about new oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's national petroleum reserve.

"We should increase safe and responsible oil production here at home," Obama said.
    
However, some energy analysts on Wall Street say when the president uses the words "safe and responsible," he's really just winking at environmentalists.
    
Meanwhile, Democrats on Capitol Hill, who fault oil speculators for the spike in gas prices, are trying to slash tax breaks for oil companies.

"I think we found when these oil company executives testified before Congress last week that, at least one of them, that supply and demand would mean that oil prices really should be about $60 to $70 a barrel," Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said.

"That would mean Washington drivers would be paying $2.50 a gallon, instead of $4 a gallon," she said.
   
On Tuesday, a vote to repeal a $2 billion a year in tax breaks for oil companies failed. Republicans say ending the tax breaks will not help to drive down prices at the pump.

"This is not an energy strategy. This is a public relations strategy. This is a `how do I get re-elected?' strategy," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said. "It does not solve the problem or the pain that Americans are feeling at the pump."

Americans are already taking steps to respond to that pain.

One answer to the problem consumers may see sooner rather than later is a GPS-like device that gives real-time information about how much gas your vehicle is using.

"Essentially you don't want to accelerate too hard. You don't want to brake too fast. You want to coast to your stops," explained Dr. Elliot Martin at the University of California-Berkeley.

Meanwhile, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.94 a gallon. With Memorial Day a week and a half away, that average may go even higher.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

Heather Sells enjoys reporting on a variety of issues for CBN News. Some of her recent stories have focused on religious liberties, technology, AIDS, overseas missions, domestic trafficking, and politics.  Follow Heather on Twitter @SellsHeather and "like" her at Facebook.com/HeatherSellsCBNNews.