WORLD / America

Bush to boost ratings and halt gas price rise
Updated: 2006-04-25 19:55

Bush will call on energy companies to reinvest their profits into expanding refining capacity, developing new technologies and researching alternative energy sources.

Critics aim to tap into public anxiety caused by rising gas prices as a way to blunt the White House push to take credit for overall good economic numbers.

Bush, a former Texas oilman, has called for the United States to kick its "addiction" to oil and predicted a "tough summer" for drivers, but there is not a lot he can do to reduce gas costs quickly and some parts of his plan have been in place for months.


Bush will say that in recent days he asked the Energy and Justice departments to look into possible cheating or illegal manipulation of gasoline markets.

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would be sending letters on Tuesday to all 50 states "to remind them to stay on top of this," McClellan said.

"It's important to make sure that there's not any price gouging," he said. "The federal government has a responsibility to act."

Republican leaders in Congress, worried that high fuel costs will turn voters against them, urged the Bush administration to investigate.

"Anyone who is trying to take advantage of this situation while American families are forced into making tough choices over whether to fill up their cars or severely cut back their budgets should be investigated and prosecuted," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert wrote in a letter to Bush on Monday.

Bush also will talk about how, at his direction, the FTC is investigating whether the price of gasoline has been unfairly manipulated, an order that has been in place since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast last year.

Democrats said Republicans would be held accountable for "turning a blind eye" to soaring gasoline costs and for failing to support legislation to give the FTC more authority to go after oil companies for price gouging.

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