Childers pushes for energy solutions

By Emily Le Coz
Daily Journal

TUPELO – In the face of ever-increasing gas prices, U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., called on the House Agriculture Committee this week to investigate the practice of oil speculation.

The newly elected congressman from Prentiss County participated Wednesday in the first of three hearings on the topic. In his opening statement to the group, Childers said he’s committed to finding out why energy costs have reached “exorbitant” levels.

“When I was elected, the price of gasoline was $3.61 per gallon. Barely a month later the price of gasoline per gallon has jumped to over $4,” Childers said. “Recently, I met with sweet potato farmers from my district who are facing increased production costs as the prices of diesel fuel, fertilizer and gasoline all rise.

“These price spikes have placed a tremendous economic pressure on an industry that is vital to my district and is threatening the livelihood of many of the Mississippi working families I represent.”

Although Childers and other committee members will explore numerous factors leading to today's high energy prices, most have specifically cited oil speculation as a particular concern.

Oil speculation is the practice whereby investors estimate how much oil will cost in the future and then buy a contract for the oil at that price. Numerous energy experts have blamed speculation on driving up the price of fuel – some by as much as 50 percent or more.

Congress this summer has already held about a half dozen hearings on the issue, with lawmakers vowing to tighten restrictions on the practice.

This week's hearing in the Agriculture Committee will be the first such hearing that Childers has attended, confirmed his communications director, Dana Edelstein. But the congressman said he’s anxious to work with his colleagues from both parties to come up with a solution.

Contact Emily Le Coz at 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.