Wednesday, September 15, 2004


The Progress Report

ENERGY – THE PRICE OF UNCHECKED CONSOLIDATION: According to a new report by leading consumer groups, Americans "have been hit by an average $1,000 increase in their annual household energy bills during the past four years, draining more than $500 billion from the economy." The report by Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America shows "much of these higher prices are due to unchecked consolidation in the oil and gas industry, which has resulted in a lack of competition and increased profits – close to $100 billion – for oil and gas companies since 2000." Instead of addressing this consolidation, the Bush administration has done the bidding of its financiers in the oil industry. According to research by Bloomberg News, "President George W. Bush allowed an increase in oil-refinery mergers to go unchecked since he took office and may have contributed to the highest gasoline prices in 20 years." Specifically, the Bush administration "approved 33 takeovers totaling $19.5 billion" – a far higher rate than the 21 mergers worth $7.3 billion approved under President Bill Clinton. Making matters worse, earlier this year Bush appointed a ChevronTexaco lawyer to head up the Federal Trade Commission – the government agency responsible for approving or rejecting industry mergers.