Sunday, July 13, 2008

UDALL: Middle Class Getting Hammered by High Gas Prices

Senate Candidate Tom Udall Hosts a Round Table

on High Gas Prices

Our lives are busy and everyone's on the move. But, going to work, running errands, and taking the kids to their little league games is getting expensive. The price of gas is now more than $4 a gallon, up 22 percent in a year. Everyone is feeling the pain at the pump.

U.S Senate Candidate Tom Udall
got an earful from some of his constituents who are feeling the pain on Friday. Udall hosted a round-table discussion in Albuquerque at the Ever-Ready Oil Company.

Udall says "voters see record prices and record profits, and he's says they're upset."

In the short term, Udall doesn't believe there are any easy answers and "no silver bullets." Udall wants a comprehensive energy plan because the country, he says "can't drill it's way out of the problem."

Udall recommend new, clean, refineries be brought on line. He says New Mexico is doing it's part because it's one of ten state's that export energy, but he'd like to see the state take the lead in solar energy development.

Both candidates for president and all the local candidates in New Mexico know the price of gas is going to weigh heavily on voter's minds this fall when they head to the polls.

During lunch in the ERO parking lot, Udall met with eight voters at a round-table on gas prices. Udall told the group he wanted to listen to different perspectives. He heard from the owner of Ever-Ready Oil company, full time mom and real estate appraiser Jennifer Gonzales, commuter Dorthy Cole, Meals on Wheels Volunteer Gloria Hawk, President of NM State Assn of Letter Carrier Richard "Smiley" Martinez, Branch 989 Letter Carrier President Susie Romero, and Teacher's Union Political Director Sarah Adleson.

Each of them shared stories of pain at the pump. Everyone understands there is no short-term solution, but each said they don't understand the cause for the steep increases.

Gonzales, who has two young children, says she doesn't want her kids to sacrifice their activities, but told Udall she can't keep running laps around the city.

Meals on Wheels Hawk is concerned about the 12 percent increase in food costs. She said the program may lose volunteers, who have remained loyal, once gas climbs over $4.

The group's letter carriers shocked the crowd when they reported each penny increase in gas costs the U.S. government $8 million dollars. Smiley said the post office can't raise postage without an "act of congress," so it isn't hiring people and routes are being split.

Romero told Udall the postal service simply can't absorb the increasing gas prices and her mail is often delivered late because of the route splits.

Adelson says the teacher's union is concerned about keeping school buses running during the school year.

Udall told reporters in this AUDIO PRESS CONFERENCE that "middle class families are getting hammered" by high gas prices and said John McCain's Gas Tax Holiday is a gimmick that will only save an average driver one tank of gas. Udall said, "that's not the kind of relief they're looking for."

He said New Mexico should prepare to become the Saudia Arabia of Solar. He says Germany is already taking the lead. He recognized France gets 80 percent of their energy from nuclear power and blamed industry in the U.S. for not building more power plants. He told reporters speculation needs to be curbed and price gouging investigated by congress.

When pressed about hedge-fund investing Udall said, "
I don’t have a problem with capitalism. What I have a problem with is the people who are getting in to the market, and driving up the price, and in many instances don’t belong in the market. The Airlines are in the market because they’re buying gasoline. That’s a legitimate example. These speculators that are in the market with paper dollars. I don’t think it’s the proper kind of speculation."

Udall claimed at least $1 a gallon of gas, or a third of the cost of a barrel, is based purely on speculators.

U.S. Senate Candidate Steve Pearce, in this INTERVIEW with Eye Witness News 4, agrees the American economy, is based on affordable gas, but says speculators are only acting on human behavior. He's concerned if congress says no to new drilling prices will be driven up even higher.

Photo credits: MG Bralley - Visit his blog and read his "Big Bad Wolf" story, and view even more amazing photos shot around UNM's campus.

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