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Lawmakers Urge Action as Gas Prices Continue to Rise

Gas prices in Massachusetts rose for the 11th straight week, and some local legislators are calling for action.

With Massachusetts gas prices rising for the 11th consecutive week, several lawmakers are advocating measures—including tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and limiting excessive oil speculation—to combat this trend.

AAA Southern New England reported on Monday that self-serve gas prices rose another nickel, and now average $3.73 per gallon. The current price is 24 cents more than one month ago and 29 cents over this time last year.

Prices at the pump in the Bay State are three cents below the national average.

Yesterday, Congressman John Tierney, representing the Massachusetts 6th District—which includes Reading—joined a bicameral group of legislators in sending a letter urging Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler to implement strict position limits on oil futures contracts with the goal of eliminating excessive speculation, which is one of the main causes for the continued rise in oil prices despite lower demand and adequate supplies, according to materials released by Rep. Tierney’s office.

“I have consistently argued that excessive speculation must be curbed in order to ensure that the price Americans pay for gasoline and heating oil is fair, and not negatively impacted by fraud, abuse, and manipulation on Wall Street,” Congressman Tierney said in a press release. “It is frustrating and outrageous that more than a year after the CFTC was mandated to take steps to protect American families, the Commission continues to delay.”

The letter was signed by more than 70 senators and representatives.

Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry stated Monday that it could be “appropriate” at some point in the future for the US to tap its Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increase the domestic gasoline supply, according to the Boston Globe.

Speaking after a meeting with Boston business leaders, Kerry said several worldwide factors were behind the spike in gas prices, including increased demand from China and the temporary loss of Libyan gasoline production.

Kerry’s comments came during during a meeting with the non-partisan New England Council, during which he also lamented the “ideological rigidity and stupidity in Washington” for blocking good ideas that could create jobs and make the US more competitive on the global economic stage.

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