September 21, 2000
12:00 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C.– According to his press release, Vice-President Al Gore today announced "that he would recommend that the President use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ensure that oil prices stabilize at a lower level." Chairman Frank H. Murkowski commented: "Quite simply, that statement goes against the law governing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (SPR)" The law governing the SPR is very clear, it says the reserve is to be used in cases of severe supply disruption. It doesn’t say the President can release oil to intervene in markets and attempt to lower prices. The SPR contains a mere 50 days supply of the foreign oil that we purchase daily. "What happens if a Gulf War situation recurs and our emergency supply is depleted?" asked Murkowski. "And, in fact, Iraq is once again threatening the stability of that region." "The Clinton-Gore Administration has spent the last seven-and- a- half years closing off supplies of oil and gas and other sources of energy in this country. They have ignored two notifications from the Commerce Department that they have put our national security in danger by their 58 percent reliance on foreign oil," said Murkowski. "Now the Vice-President is shocked, shocked that there is ‘short-sighted energy dependence.’ "And he points fingers at the oil companies. I’m not going to defend any oil company practice, I’m just going to say that if they are so powerful in controlling prices in the world market, why did they allow the prices to go to $10 a barrel in 1998? When oil was at that level, the Vice-President did not call for an investigation of why 136,000 oil and 57,000 gas wells were closed under his watch. These were existing, independent wells–not new exploration. "The Vice President on the one hand rails at OPEC and ‘big oil’ for manipulating prices–then he advocates the Government do just that." The Wall Street Journal reports today that both Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan have advised President Clinton that an administration proposal to drive down energy prices by opening the government’s emergency oil reserve would be a major policy mistake. "In short, the Vice-President is willing to look at a short-term fix to a problem he recommends in his book, Earth in the Balance. Higher oil and gas prices are thought to lead to conservation and new plans for alternative energy sources. I agree that those are worthy goals. But the Vice-President has caused the problem, encouraged the problem, and now wonders what he can do to help the poor families in this country get through the heating season," said Murkowski. "That is like killing your parents and then throwing yourself on the mercy of the court because you are now an orphan." The Vice-President also called on Congress to pass legislation to authorize the Northeast home heating oil reserve. "It is interesting to note that we tried to pass that bill on Tuesday but it is being held up by a Democrat senator," said the Chairman. ####