Archive for Thursday, May 17, 2001

Senator says high fuel prices could be summer fixture

May 17, 2001

American consumers can expect seasonal spikes in gasoline prices unless some air-quality standards are rolled back, Sen. Sam Brownback told students at De Soto High School last Friday.

At the end of his address commemorating the community service efforts of the De Soto High School boys and girls basketball teams, the Kansas Republican took questions from the audience. A question about the cost of gasoline earned the most applause from students.

Brownback attributed much of the recent spike, which has pushed gas prices to $1.70 a gallon, to summer air-quality standards.

"Refineries have to produce a different kind of gasoline in summer months to meet clean-air requirements," he said. "That decreases efficiency because they can't produce the same type of gasoline in larger quantities all year long. You could see $2 gasoline in this area during the summer months."

Brownback told the students to expect a move to ease standards to spark a heated debate in Washington, D.C., because of the opposition of "strident environmentalists."

The senator conceded the country "hasn't been as conservation-minded as we could be." He suggested Congress would have to adopt a long-term policy that encourages conservation and eases air-quality standards. Brownback rejected price controls as a short-term fix that is counter productive in the long term.

"Price controls do all the wrong things," he said. "They limit the expansion of refining capacity and encourage consumption."

Conservative Kansas Republicans encouraged Brownback to run for governor in 2002 talk the senator didn't immediately dismiss when it surfaced in January. In response to another student question Friday, Brownback made it clear he plans to keep his seat in Washington.

"I'm happy in the U.S. Senate," he said. "I hope to run again for the Senate when my current term is up in 2004."

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