WASHINGTON, D.C. (WMBD) — A U.S. lawmaker is trying to provide relief at the pump and hold oil companies accountable.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is introducing the “Gas Price Gouging Prevention Act,” looking to hold big oil companies responsible for price gouging.
“Our working families are hurting right now,” Duckworth told WMBD’s Matt Sheehan during On the Record. “There’s no question that big oil is gouging right now. The legislation I’m introducing would make it illegal for big oil to use the war in Ukraine as an excuse to hike up the price of oil and gas on working families.”
Duckworth called the oil companies’ moves “morally wrong.” She said this is not the first time it has happened, either.
“There was legislation that was worked on post-Katrina that looked at price gouging by the oil companies then as well. So this is not a brand-new idea or a brand-new problem,” Duckworth said.
Now, Duckworth is calling on President Joe Biden to create a gas price gouging task force, which would be chaired by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“This would monitor and investigate oil and gas markets. To make sure there are no violations of criminal or civil laws. We should look at everyone,” Duckworth said. “They’re the ones who have even come out and said that they’re not going to pump more because they would rather take the bigger profits and use it to buy back stock or payout higher dividends to their shareholders.”
She also responded to a proposal made by Illinois Republicans.
“I am not opposed to a tax holiday, but I do want that tax money to be replenished. At the federal level, I’m supporting a tax on excessive profits by the oil companies. So I would support a tax holiday on gas tax for example, but I would back that bill with a tax on windfall profits of the oil companies,” Duckworth said.
She hopes the United States should become more independent. When asked if the Keystone XL Pipeline cancellation was the right thing to do, she said it wouldn’t have changed the price of oil in the U.S.
“The Keystone Pipeline took tar sands oil from Canada, brought it down to the ports, and then exported it. So that oil didn’t stay in the U.S. and it didn’t bring down the price of oil in the U.S. at all. In fact, the United States is the largest oil-producing country in the world. The oil companies raked in $205 billion last year. What I want America to be is energy independent. I think oil is part of that, I think nuclear is part of that, but I also think wind power is part of that. We created 100,000 new jobs over 10 years in wind power alone. Don’t forget ethanol. We are a major Agriculture state that can really help bring down the cost of gas that people put in their gas tanks by having a higher ethanol blend into our fuel.”
Duckworth said the oil companies received $35 billion in tax breaks in 2021.
“I wish we could take those tax breaks and give it to the American people, who sure could use it much more than the oil companies need it,” Duckworth said.
Duckworth said it is time to get Russian President Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table.
“The way we get him there is to make it, so he can no longer conduct this war,” Duckworth said. “He still has resources, we need to finish cutting him off with sanctions. There are still some banks that have not been cut off. He still has sources of revenue.”
She said India is still buying oil from Russia, despite the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia offered them a 20% discount, and India has decided to not stand with the rest of the nations in the world,” Duckworth said. “We can make it especially painful for the oligarchs around Vladimir Putin. They’re the only ones he’s going to listen to. The most important thing is we need to stand with the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian military. They need more S300s, those anti-aircraft missiles. Those SA10s, SA12s, we need to supply them with even more ammunition than the millions of rounds we’ve already given them. We need to give them more humanitarian aid. We’re doing that, and we’re going to push through even more in the next weeks.”
A major goal, Duckworth said, is to hold on to Kyiv and repel the Russian aggressors.
She added that the U.S. has more than 100,000 troops in Eastern Europe currently.
“The Illinois National Guard was in Ukraine training the Ukrainian military as recently as last fall,” Duckworth said.
To get troops across the border and into Ukraine would take a violation of a NATO nation coming under attack, Duckworth said.
“At which point, Article 5 of the Mutual Self-Defense Treaty would be invoked. I would like for it to not get there because I think we can stop the Russians with an increase in what we’re doing now,” Duckworth said.
Duckworth officially introduced the legislation Thursday.
This segment aired Friday, March 25, on WMBD News This Morning