One of the candidates for the Republican bid for the U.S. 12th District seat says he has a plan that would cut the price of gas by 50 cents a gallon — now.
John Stone, an aide for former U.S. Rep. Max Burns and one of three GOP contestants for the seat now held by John Barrow, said suspending the federal and state taxes on gasoline and lifting the import tariff on ethanol would ease the prices at the pump much more than curtailing adding to the strategic reserve.
“Not putting crude oil into the strategic reserve only makes about 2 cent-6 cent a gallon difference in the price of gasoline,” he said.
Senators voted to halt the additions to the strategic petroleum reserve, but Stone said that would only result in a savings of 2 cents to 6 cents per gallon.
Eliminating the state and federal taxes on gasoline would result in a savings of 45 cents a gallon, Stone said.
Dropping the 54-cent per gallon tariff on imported ethanol, which would open the way for more of Brazil’s abundant sugar cane-based ethanol, would knock another 10 cents off a gallon, according to Stone.
“If we don’t do something to stop the bleeding immediately, we’re going to put the economy in a worse situation than it is now,” he said.
The difference in the government coffers would be made up by rolling back the subsidies to oil companies, Stone said.
“We’ve got four major oil companies, and we’re giving them $17 billion in tax subsidies,” he said. “If we use that for six months tax cut, we don’t cost the deficit a nickel.”
The tax incentives are used by oil companies for further exploration of oil reserves, developing alternative sources of energy and drilling new wells.
“These are things that if you’re a business, you should be doing anyway,” Stone said.
Stone admitted the plan “does nothing for a long-term solution.”
“Long term, we need a 10-year energy plan,” he said. “We need to do something for our energy independence.”
Stone is facing Ray McKinney and Ben Crystal in the Republican primary. Incumbent John Barrow is opposed by Regina Thomas in the Democratic primary.
Stone called for an expansion of nuclear power and for more drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
“President Clinton vetoed it in 1995 and said we won’t get anything out of that for 10 years,” Stone said.
He also has called for greater offshore drilling and pointed to China’s foray into offshore drilling 45 miles off the Florida coast where U.S. firms can’t drill.
“We’ve got 60 percent of the known oil reserves. We own more than the Middle East. We’re just not using them,” Stone said.
He also called for the U.S. to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels as much as possible over the next 20 years.
“There’s not going to be a silver bullet. We have to maximize the use of renewable sources, such as hydro, wind, solar and tidal,” Stone said.
“All that doesn’t help the consumer get down Highway 21. We’ve got to help them.
“We need to get it down by 50 cents, and we can do it by not hurting the deficit. And there’s our solution to at least getting the economic bleeding stopped.”
In his travels through the district, Stone said he has found that workers who once might have missed work because they called in sick are now calling in saying they can’t afford to come into work because they don’t have the gas money, especially if they live more than 30 minutes away.