2006-02-09 / Savvy Senior

Savvy Senior

YOU ASK THE SENIOR QUESTION WE FIND THE SAVVY ANSWER In a recent report by the Energy Information Administration, Amer-ican consumers can expect to pay an average of $15.44 per thousand cubic square feet to heat their homes with natural gas this year - an all-time high. For many seniors, this hike represents an impossible financial burden.

National Spokeswoman for The Seniors Coalition, Flora “Grandma” Green, recently ventured through the newly fallen snow to push the House Agriculture Committee to speedily approve the reauthorization of the Commodities Exchange Act to establish badly needed regulation for the natural gas futures markets.

“It’s literally freezing today,” Green said as the mercury measured a high of 33 degrees, “and there are seniors at home right this minute struggling with the decisions of just how much they have to spend on groceries or prescription drugs, or whether they can afford to see a doctor this month.

“It is outrageous to think that they now have to decide whether they can afford to heat their homes while the large investment firms dealing in the aggressive trading of natural gas futures are now counting the billions of dollars they will be able to dole out in end-of-year bonuses to their employees,” he said.

The spike in natural gas costs is attributable, in large measure, to the unregulated natural gas futures markets that allow speculators to manipulate pricing with virtual impunity.

A recent report published in the December 5th issue of New York Magazine found that Goldman, Sachs, and Company - one of the more aggressive traders on the natural gas futures markets - was reported to have a pool of more than $11 billion for year-end bonuses (an average of $500,000 per employee).

The Commodities Exchange Reauthorization Act currently under review by the House Agriculture Committee contains language that would establish stiffer penalties and added market surveillance related to the natural gas futures markets. With these provisions, the Commodities and Exchange Act will serve to allow the “true market” to drive pricing rather than allowing for artificial manipulation by aggressive speculators.

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