WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said on Monday that his party’s energy bill will cut demand for gas and help lower prices at the pump.
“Our bill will save American consumers tens of billions of dollars annually, cut our oil consumption by more than four million barrels per day and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources right away. And by the way, we might just save the planet while we're at it,” Reid told reporters Monday. The Democrat from Nevada discussed the Senate Democrats’ energy legislation during a speech at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
Reid said the Democrats’ plan calls for new cars and trucks to get 35 miles per gallon by the year 2020. To cut down on imported oil, the proposal also requires an increase in the production of ethanol and other renewable fuels used by vehicles in the United States.
And the Senate Majority Leader said the bill gives the government more power to investigate gas prices profiteering, saying “this democratic congress will not hesitate to take action when energy companies gouge the American people."
Oil companies have said there is no price gouging, and accuse Congress of playing politics.
The Senate will begin debate this week on the legislation, Reid said.
The bill, if passed, must be approved by the House before going to the White House. The bill could face a tough time in the Senate. Reid said he’s more worried about the Senate passing the energy bill than the possibility of a presidential veto.
The Senator from Nevada made his comments as gas prices registered their first drop since January. The national average for gasoline dropped 7 cents over the past three weeks, to $3.11 per gallon, according to a national survey by the oil industry analyst Trilby Lundberg.
Regardless, high gas prices remain a major concern for Americans. Fifty-eight percent of Americans surveyed in a recent Gallup poll think gas prices will top four dollars a gallon this summer.
- Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser