Sen. Reid: Highway Bill Will Lead to Lower Gas Prices

By Matt Cover | March 8, 2012 | 6:12 PM EST

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

( – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that increased transportation spending on projects like building or repairing roads and bridges would lead to lower fuel consumption and, thus, lower gas prices.

At the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, asked Reid, “With this [transportation] bill, is your goal to try to help drive down the cost of gasoline? Is that part of this?”

Reid, after stating that the nation’s highways needed repair and telling a story about a drive he took with his wife from San Diego to Las Vegas answered, saying, “yes, highway construction will save fuel.” Reid was speaking on Capitol Hill about funding for a transportation bill under negotiation in the Senate.

“The purpose of this bill is to continue the highway program started by President Eisenhower,” Reid said. “Twenty percent of our highways are not safe.”

“And in answer to your question, I don’t want to belabor this but I will so you understand where we’re coming from,” Reid said. “Several years ago my wife and I took a trip over Christmas that went to Southern California. I decided to do something different – we were going to drive back from the San Diego area to Las Vegas. I hadn’t done that in a long, long time. That was such an eye-opener for me. The highway was so crowded. We came to a complete halt many times – and when I say many times [I mean] eight or nine times. Every one of those times we came to a complete halt cars were idling, using gas that they shouldn’t have been using. These big trucks trying to move commerce across our country were idling, using a lot of fuel.”

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“So the answer, yes, highway construction will save fuel,” said the senator.

Reid’s statement stands in contrast to what Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said. He told a House committee on Feb. 28 that his department was not focused on reducing gas prices and was instead focused on weaning the U.S. off of oil-based fuels.

“No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” Chu said after Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) asked if the Energy Department’s goal was to reduce prices.

“We think that if you consider all these policies, including energy efficiency, you know, we think that we can go a lot, a long way to becoming less dependent on oil and [diversifying] our supply and we’ll help the American economy and the American consumers,” Chu said.