Gas Prices Ignite Musgrove-Wicker Debate - - Jackson, MS

Ridgeland 07/28/08

Gas Prices Ignite Musgrove-Wicker Debate

By David Kenney

The price at the pump has sparked a war of words between U.S. Senate candidates Ronnie Musgrove and Roger Wicker.

This week Musgrove, a Democrat, is accusing Wicker, a Republican, of not supporting legislation that would lower the price of gas.

Musgrove says Wall Street speculators are the problem when it comes to high gas prices, and that Wicker isn't doing anything about it. In particular, voting against a bill to crack down on speculators, who Musgrove says are pushing up the price of oil by a dollar a gallon.

"The bill would have allowed votes on expanding the drilling for oil companies," Musgrove said during a press conference at a Ridgeland gas station. "Roger Wicker followed the party leadership and voted against the bill."

Musgrove says he supports a comprehensive energy plan that includes more domestic oil drilling and making oil trading more transparent. 

"Roger Wicker voted against the people of Mississippi," Musgrove said. "Roger Wicker just as well (may) have taken cash out of our wallets and mailed it to Wall Street."

"Like most things Ronnie Musgrove says, you can't believe him," says Wicker for Senate spokesman Ryan Annison.

Annison says the reason Wicker didn't vote for the bill is because it didn't contain anything about increasing domestic drilling.

"We can talk about speculating all we want, but the problem is we need more drilling in the United States to decrease our dependency on foreign oil, and Senator Wicker has a long seasoned history of fighting for that," Annison said. 

While the Senate candidates agree to disagree, gas station owners say consumers may benefit from an investigation into how oil is traded on the open market.

"There is a purpose for commodity trading, but I think we need to find out and congress needs to find out who's doing the trading and what benefit it is to them or what benefit it is to the consumer," said BP station owner Stanley Roberts.

This week Wicker is in Washington working on a gas-price reduction act. It's designed to increase drilling in the U.S. and research into alternative energy and fuels.

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