Former governor talks gasoline prices at Senate campaign stop
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Gas prices would fall if U.S. leaders "unleashed" the country's fuel resources, says former U.S. Sen. George Allen.
The former Republican governor spoke about gas prices and energy policy on Thursday just outside Strasburg during a stop on his campaign for the party's nomination as the candidate to run for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb. Former Gov. Tim Kaine is seeking the Democratic Party's nomination.
"We oughta be thanking God that we're blessed with more resources, energy resources than any other country in the world; Russia's no. 2," Allen said. "Unfortunately the folks in Washington seem to look at these resources as a curse because they keep 'em off limits."
Allen, surrounded by area media representatives, stood outside 7-Eleven on U.S. 11 at the Interstate 81 interchange as drivers fueled up at the pumps for $3.89 per gallon.
Virginia Del. Michael J. Webert, R-Marshall, and a farmer by trade, joined Allen at the event. Webert's district includes Rappahannock County and parts of Warren, Fauquier and Culpeper counties.
If elected, Allen said he would introduce a bill to allow Virginia to produce oil and natural gas off the coast, the royalties from which would go to help pay for road construction and transportation projects. Allen favors expanding oil and natural gas exploration in Alaska.
Allen noted his support for importing oil from Canada and criticized Kaine's stance on the Keystone XL pipeline project as well as the Democrat's advocacy of the "cap-and-trade scheme."
"While I prefer American oil and coal and natural gas, if we're going have to import it I'd rather be getting it from the Canadians than having to worry about hostile dictators," Allen said.
Allen also criticized President Obama's administration for allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to handle cap-and-trade for energy emissions.
"Now I don't know who in the heck elected EPA," Allen said. "They're unelected, unaccountable. They're pestering you. Worrying about dust on a farm and your cattle aren't supposed to be drinking water out of a creek and all the different things that they're doing. But what they're doing with this tax is in effect to outlaw coal. Coal means jobs in Virginia."
If elected, Allen said he would vote in favor of a resolution of disapproval which would bar the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide. Policies which Allen claims ban coal as a source of electric power would ultimately hurt anyone who uses electricity through higher costs.
Allen blamed restrictive policies for causing high fuel prices, particularly at the gas pumps, which, in turn, impact families and farmers. The high gas prices, Allen said, also hurts drivers in suburban areas.
"If we had an approach which I am advocating which is a positive, constructive approach, and that is unleashing our American resources," Allen said.
Allen took time to promote the website, toomuchatthepump.com, which estimates how much a person spent to fill up his or her vehicle's gas tank in January 2009, at the beginning of Obama's term, compared with the current cost to fuel up. Several examples showed the price to fill up fuel tanks had more than doubled in three years when gas cost less than $2 a gallon on average.
Woodstock resident Jerry O'Brien stopped by the 7-Eleven to hear Allen speak and asked him about his stance on speculators and their impact on rising oil prices.
"I was interested to hear what he had to say and I'm concerned about gas prices," O'Brien said.
Higher fuel prices hurt some sellers such as Holtzman Oil & Propane.
"Speculation's killer," said Todd Holtzman, manager with Holtzman's propane business, who attended the event. "Ultimately, they manipulate the market and the consumer at the pump pays the penalty."
"We're stuck in the middle and high prices are not happy times for us because people are using so much less, traveling less and that reduces our sales and means our customers struggle to pay their bills," Holtzman said.