October 5, 2000
12:00 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Chairman Frank H. Murkowski today responded to the objection Sen. Barbara Boxer D-CA, lodged against H.R. 2884, the re-authorization for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the Northeast home heating oil reserve. Murkowski addressed four of her comments. First, “The Senator claimed that we could take up and pass the underlying bill H.R. 2884 without any amendments. This is simply not true. Secretary (Bill) Richardson, among others, has asked that the Congress provide a more responsible trigger mechanism than is contained in the underlying bill. The substitute has such a provision,” said the Chairman. Second, “The Senator from California also said the federal government should not be in the oil business. At the same time she congratulates the Vice President when the Administration weakens our national security selling government owned oil. “The Senator claims this strategy appears to be working. I think she is right. It will be a great benefit for the people in Europe, who are going to receive refined product from the release of oil from our SPR,” Murkowski said. Third, “The Senator claims the Royalty-In-Kind provisions are simply a charade to allow oil companies to avoid paying fair market value and that this Senator is trying to undercut efforts to resolve valuation issues. While I’d like to take credit for this provision, in fairness I need to say that this was all worked out with the Ranking Member of the Committee and the Administration. In fact, the Royalty-In-Kind program itself was initiated in 1994 by Vice President Gore as part of reinventing government to test new, more efficient ways of collecting its royalty share. If the Senator is saying that Al Gore’s efforts to reinvent government have been a failure and cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars–I will respect her opinion. “The amendment does nothing to undercut any efforts to have the government receive full royalty from leases–in fact, it makes it more likely that they will receive full royalties.” “Finally, the Senator accused me of trying to move this program in the dark of night. I am disappointed by this statement. Prior to ever taking this bill to the floor, my staff approached the Senator’s staff to try to resolve her concerns in a good faith effort. Sen. (Jeff) Bingaman’s staff has spent countless hours answering the Senator’s questions and addressing her concerns. Unfortunately, our efforts were not successful.” “Any argument that the RIK language in this bill has not gone through the appropriate process pales in comparison to the lack of process involved in the rider on the same subject the Senator from California supports in the Interior Appropriations bill.” “It is time we move the Senate version of this very important bill to re-authorize the strategic petroleum reserve and establish a home heating oil reserve,” the Chairman concluded. ###