Congressional candidate calls for gas price relief

Twelfth District Congressional candidate John Stone called for Congress to provide immediate emergency relief from high gas prices by suspending fuel and tariff taxes.

The tax cuts could be paid for by ending billions in government subsidies for oil companies, Mr. Stone said during a news conference in Augusta today.

"We currently have 45 cents a gallon in taxes on gas in federal, state and local taxes," he said. "We have 55 cents on diesel in taxes. If Congress will temporarily lift that for 180 days, we can drive down the price of gas by 50 cents a gallon, the price of diesel by 60 cents a gallon and provide some real emergency relief for consumers, for our loggers, for our truckers."

The tax cuts won't solve the nation's long-term problem but will give the economy some relief, much more so than Tuesday's House and Senate action to temporarily suspend government oil purchases for the U.S. strategic oil reserve, he said. That action is expected to save consumers only 2 to 5 cents a gallon at the pump, Mr. Stone said.

"We can pay for it with the massive tax subsidies that we're currently giving the four major oil providers that are giving us this $127 a barrel price on oil," he said. "I don't see why when we're having an industry that's making the highest profits in world history, we're giving them tax subsidies while our consumers, our truckers, our business people, our economy is drying on the vine."

To solve the problem long-term, the nation needs to commit to make the country energy independent within 10 years, "whatever it takes," he said. Mr. Stone said Congress should lift the 54 cents per gallon import tariff on ethanol, which will save 10 cents a gallon on gas.

He also wants the United States to stop making ethanol from corn because it has driven food prices up drastically.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at 706-823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com