Apr 28 2006

Graham Signs on to Temporary Plan to Suspend Federal Gas Tax

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today signed on as a sponsor to the Gas Price Reduction Act which temporarily suspends through September 30 the 18.4 cents a gallon federal gas tax. The plan reimburses the Highway Trust fund an equal amount by suspending certain tax credits and royalties for the major oil companies. “This is a temporary relief measure,” said Graham. “I hope it will be followed by a longer-term strategy to wean our nation of our dependence on foreign sources of oil. As a nation, we must become more energy independent.” Graham noted the gas tax roll back plan introduced by Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) didn’t take money away from the Highway Trust Fund and reduce South Carolina’s share of highway funds which are spent on maintenance and upkeep. The revenue lost by the suspension of the federal gas tax will be replaced by reducing, canceling, and reallocating previous tax credits and royalty payments to the major oil companies. “I know what high gas prices mean to citizens and businesses in South Carolina,” said Graham. “Increased fuel prices hits everyone – from families, to those on fixed incomes, to our businesses -- very hard. With the price of a barrel of oil over $70, these tax credits and royalty waivers are not needed by the oil companies. It’s only appropriate to do away with these breaks.” During his service in the House of Representatives and Senate, Graham has repeatedly voted to open the Artic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration. The provision has been blocked in the Senate for years. Graham also serves as the co-chair of the Senate Hydrogen Caucus and has been a strong supporter of research and development of hybrid vehicles and hydrogen-powered automobiles. The passage into law last year of the Energy Bill contained more than $3.5 billion in funding over the next 5 years for hydrogen research. The hydrogen provisions in the bill were largely based upon language authored by Graham and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota). “As for the long term, I think it would be irresponsible if 50 years from now we’re still reliant on Middle Eastern oil to drive our national economy,” said Graham. “We need to get away from fossil fuels and start looking at using different sources of energy such as hydrogen.” “Our state is a national leader in hydrogen research,” said Graham. “USC is developing fuel cells, Clemson is working on hydrogen vehicles, and Savannah River Site (SRS) is a leading research facility on hydrogen technologies. What Detroit was to the automotive industry, South Carolina can be to hydrogen.” #####