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Democrat Urges Ban on Price Gouging by Oil Companies

A U.S. Senator from the opposition Democratic Party says Congress should pass a law making price gouging by U.S. oil companies a federal crime.

In the Democrats' weekly radio address Saturday, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington state said Congress should pass the law by the end of May.

She said gasoline prices have surged more than 70 cents in one year and that American families are hurting.

The senator called for an end to tax breaks for big oil companies and for increased investment in alternative fuels to break what she called America's over-reliance on foreign oil.

President Bush has also said that the U.S. needs to deal with what he called an addiction to oil. The president's plan calls for boosting U.S. oil production and, in the long term, finding alternatives to gasoline.

Senator Cantwell said the U.S. should stop talking about energy independence and take action with incentives for the development of lighter cars and alternative fuels. She said the U.S. can be energy independent by 2020.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.