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VALLEY PERSPECTIVE

Gas Bills

April 08, 2001

* Hidden away on B6 of the Valley edition is the story of the city's excess revenue generated by the increase in natural gas prices ("Higher Gas Bills Yield Surplus in City Budget," April 3). Not only are consumers being gouged by unsupportable prices for basic utilities, it now appears that our politicians are just as bad as the utilities.

Prices for natural gas have been forced artificially higher by a lack of pipeline capacity to deliver quantities needed for home and industrial consumption and electrical generation. In an apparent attempt to increase the price for a commodity it would appear that gas companies have engaged in long-term restriction of pipeline construction to enable them to get whatever the market will bear, price-wise. Our elected leaders, aware of the price increases by the natural gas suppliers, have been vocal enough in their outrage. At the same time, they have done nothing to abate an artificial tax increase on natural gas users, enriching city coffers to the tune of millions of dollars.

President Truman had a sign in the White House that said, "The Buck Stops Here." Apparently that is a lesson that is taught to all politicians. The buck stops at City Hall, the state Capital and the nation's Capital--wherever politicians can be found. Since this latest tax is not tied to consumption, or reality, it should be refunded to the gas companies' customers.

HAROLD E. BOUCHER

West Hills

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