Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Consumers on Their Own with Bucher/Van Hollen

Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager announced the results of a study that she ordered on big oil companies and the reasons for skyrocketing prices at the gas pump for consumers.

The study was conducted by Dr. Mark N. Cooper, a Washington D.C. based analyst of energy and consumer issues. In his executive summary, Dr. Cooper concludes some of the following:

*The average Wisconsin family pays $1,000 more a year on gas than they did in the 1990’s.

*Supply and demand issues are not the reason for the skyrocketing prices at the pump. If that were true there would be 15 million barrels in the world crude market, at least 3 million more in capacity in domestic refineries, and the price of gas would be closer to $1.50 a gallon rather than $3.

*Oil Industry profits have been setting records in 5 of the last 6 years, making $100 billion in excess profits.

Predictably, Republican Candidate for AG Paul Bucher shot off a press release today suggesting that it was inappropriate for Lautenschlager to order the study. In the release he suggests that he could get a bigger bang for his buck with the funds used for the study. He then goes on to list his favorite crime related programs and activities. Then in typical “me-too” form, J.B. Van Hollen put out a press release with his favorite accusation that the study was “politically motivated.”

We should be grateful that both Bucher and Van Hollen have given us a glimpse into their vision (or lack thereof) for the office of Attorney General. Apparently they have forgotten that the Department of Justice has a role in something called CONSUMER PROTECTION. Perhaps they would prefer not to protect Wisconsin consumers as the big oil companies continue to gouge them. Yes, the federal government largely regulates the oil industry, but if they fall asleep at the switch, should the state of Wisconsin not protect its citizens?

One thing is clear. In a Bucher or Van Hollen Department of Justice consumers would be on their own.

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