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Higgins Sees Need for Greater Federal Oversight of Energy Industry

By Terry Gildea

Washington, DC – Natural gas prices were expected to be high before Hurricane Katrina. Now, the damaged pipelines in the Gulf region will put further strain on an already tight supply. Buffalo Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins wants to be sure energy companies are not price gouging consumers.

The US Energy Information Administration predicts natural gas costs could increase by 70 percent in some areas of the country. But Higgins doesn't believe the crisis warrants such a drastic price hike. As a member of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Resources, Higgins says natural gas companies could be taking advantage of the consumer.

"I would rather not have to take into consideration more aggressive regulation of the energy industry," Higgins said. "But toward the goal of greater transparency and greater accountability, that's something this Congress needs to look at."

In addition to tighter regulation, Higgins and other Democrats are encouraging conservation. Republicans say an increase in natural gas drilling would lower prices.