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BREITBART.COM: Bush warns of 'tough summer' with higher petrol prices


Bush warns of 'tough summer' with higher petrol prices: Apr 22 10:54 PM


US President George W. Bush has warned rising oil prices will mean a “tough summer” for US consumers as the high cost of gasoline (petrol) showed signs of becoming a big political issue.


But even as more Americans expressed discontent over the price of filling up their gas tanks, Bush suggested there was little his government could do in the short term about the problem.


“We're going to have a tough summer because people are beginning to drive now during tight supply,” Bush said as he toured a California facility developing hydrogen-powered vehicles.


“The American people have got to understand what happens elsewhere in the world affects the price of gasoline you pay here.”


Bush spoke after a week of unremitting rises in prices in global crude oil markets and at gasoline (petrol) pumps across the country. Crude topped a record 75 dollars per barrel in New York trading Friday, five dollars up from a week earlier.


At the same time, US retail pump prices were topping an average three dollars a gallon (3.8 liters) in many places in the country, up 60 cents — 33 percent — from a year ago.


The sharp rises on the eve of the US summer, during which millions of people fly or drive on holiday, showed signs of becoming a major political issue for the struggling Bush administration ahead of November mid-term elections.


But even as the president stressed Saturday that the government was making efforts to protect consumers from price-gouging, he said there was little he could do in the short term to alleviate the impact of higher oil prices.


“We've got a real problem when it comes to oil. We're addicted, and it's harmful for the economy, and it's harmful for our national security,” he said.


“I understand the folks here, as well as other places in the country, are paying high gas prices.


“The American people have got to understand what happens elsewhere in the world affects the price of gasoline you pay here,” he said, referring to skyrocketing oil demand in the booming economies of India and China.


Bush also blamed the higher prices on a shortage of refinery capacity in the United States, and also on an ongoing shift in fuel additives and mixes that has caused supply hiccups in certain areas.


“When that price of gasoline goes up, it hurts working people. It hurts our small businesses. And it's a serious problem we've got to do something about. The federal government has a responsibility, by the way, to make sure … there is no price gouging,” he added.


The political importance of gasoline prices before the summer break was clear as both opposition Democrat and Republican lawmakers spent the week taking the administration to task over the issue and asking if oil companies were exploiting the situation.


Senator Bill Nelson called Friday for “more dramatic steps” to lessen US dependence on foreign oil.


Dennis Hastert, the Republican head of the House of Representatives, and Senate Republican majority chief Bill Frist said they planned to write Bush a letter calling for an investigation into possibly price manipulation by oil companies.


While the oil companies deny any manipulation, public confidence was eroded at the recent report that exiting Exxon Mobil executive Lee Raymond was getting a 400 million dollar retirement package.

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