US:Oil Pending Strategic Reserve Release : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Two stories:

Nothing like a little poly-ticks - 5 million barrels is a drop in the daily bucket.

Clinton Decision 'Imminent' on Oil Reserve Release

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Energy Secretary Bill
Richardson said Thursday that President Clinton was actively
considering whether to release oil from the nation's emergency
stockpile and that a decision was ``imminent.''

``At this very moment, a decision is imminent,'' Richardson
told members of the U.S. House Government Reform committee
during a hearing on rising energy prices.

``The president is actively considering that right now,''

Richardson said, referring to a possible release of oil from
the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. ``He may decide not to tap it,''

he added.

The administration has been ``very reluctant'' to release oil
from the 570 million barrel stockpile in the past, Richardson
told the panel.

Gore Seeking Edge With Energy Issue

WASHINGTON (AP) - Facing a growing concern over the threat of
high heating costs, Al Gore urged President Clinton on Thursday to
tap the government's emergency petroleum reserve and force down oil
prices before winter arrives.

Attempting to turn public anxiety over high energy costs into a
political advantage, Gore also called on Congress to provide $400
million in additional energy assistance for low income families and
tax credits to oil distributors to help build up dwindling heating
oil stocks.

Gore urged the president to approve a series of ``swaps'' in
which oil - about 5 million barrels initially - would be made
available to the market. If these releases produced lower prices
and eased tight supplies, the Energy Department should make
additional releases ``to further stabilize prices,'' Gore said.

Under Gore's plan, oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve - a
government stockpile of nearly 600 million barrels of crude
intended to counter supply shortfalls - would be made available to
the market through bids. A company would agreed to return the oil
to the government at a future date, presumably when the price has
declined, lowering its value. No actual money would be exchanged.

As he did last summer when gasoline prices soared, the vice
president took another swipe at the oil companies, claiming they
were ``profiteering'' at the expense of American consumers saddled
with $2-a-gallon gasoline during the summer and faced with an
expected price shock in the winter heating season.

The Energy Department predicts heating costs will be a third
higher on average this winter than last and could go even higher if
there is severe weather.

It's yet to be determined how much of an impact energy prices
will have in the final weeks of the presidential campaign. Gore
this summer sought to paint his GOP rival, George W. Bush, as tied
too closely to the oil industry.

Gore was reviving that theme while unveiling his energy
proposals during a campaign stop Thursday at a heating oil
distribution company in St. Mary's County on southern Maryland's
Chesapeake Bay.

``One of the central choices we face in this election is whether
we will have a president who's willing to stand up to the big oil
interests and fight for our families,'' Gore said in prepared

On Wednesday, Bush, campaigning in Pennsylvania, said the
Clinton administration - including Gore - should ``be held
accountable for a failed energy policy'' that has thwarted domestic
oil production and failed to confront the OPEC oil cartel.

Asked at a town-hall-style meeting what he would do about oil
prices and reliance on foreign oil, Bush, himself a former oilman,
said he would ``use our diplomatic leverage'' against the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and increase
domestic drilling, including in a protected arctic wildlife refuge
in Alaska.

The refuge is believed to harbor about 10 billion barrels of
recoverable oil. Environmentalists have opposed its development, as
has Gore. Bush and the oil companies have argued that drilling can
be accomplished in an environmentally protective way.

While Gore reiterated his long-term energy strategy - largely
pegged to promoting increased conservation and a shift away from
fossil fuels by tax credits and other incentives - his focus was on
dealing with the short term.

Many member of Congress have been urging the Clinton
administration for months to step in and release oil from the
strategic reserve.

It was last used in response to an emergency in 1991 during the
Persian Gulf War, although some oil was sold to pay for operating
the reserve in 1996 and 1997.

So far, the White House has resisted such a move, but this week
Clinton said he was considering tapping the reserve. Energy
Secretary Bill Richardson told a group of lawmakers Wednesday ``all
options remain on the table'' and that the president would not
leave consumers ``hostage'' to high heating oil costs.

``Shortly, I suspect the president will make some decision,''

Richardson said.

Gore is appealing to voters in the East who heat their homes and
people in the Midwest, the hotly contested presidential
battleground, who are paying high prices to fill their automobile
gas tanks.

``They've got to lower taxes and lower the price of gas,'' said
Kathy Johnson of Economy, Pa. Pumping gas into her van at an Exxon
station, she shook her head in disgust at a row of prices options -
all higher than $1.50 per gallon.

``Can you believe these prices? Give us a break,'' she said.

Gore called on oil companies to ``end their profiteering'' and
for OPEC to immediately increase production and bring down prices
that have been increasing steadily, reaching $37.80 a barrel on

``Crude oil prices are at a ten-year high, while the big oil
companies have seen their profits increase by two to three times in
the past year,'' declared Gore, pursuing a populist theme that has
been central to his campaign in recent weeks.

The oil industry has denied any profiteering, arguing that the
price are determined by world market forces. While profits may be
high this year, many companies struggled when oil prices were at
$10 a barrel 18 months ago, they argue.

The 14 major oil companies during the first eight months of this
year earned a total of $15.5 billion, nearly triple the profits
during the same period in 1999 when oil prices were depressed,
according to the Energy Information Administration.

-- (, September 21, 2000


Open to bids? I couldn't believe my ears when I read that. This is a joke. Does Mr. Re-invent Government realize how long this red-tape-filled process will take? He's lucky to get any oil at all into the pipeline before next April this way, long after New Englanders need heating oil for the heating season.

Al Gore is a joke.

-- Billiver (, September 21, 2000.

Oh, goody. Let's see, we use some 16 million barrels a day. That means 5 million barrels would be enough to power the country for about 8 hours.

Al Gore to the rescue. How could we ever do without him?

-- Wellesley (, September 21, 2000.

Now Gore is taking off against Big Oil. Heaven help us. It amazes me that no investigative reporting has been done on his convincing his boss, Big Bill Clinton to sell-off our precious Elk Hills (Calif.) Naval Reserve to Occidental Petroleum, a company in which his family owns a half million dollars worth of stock.

When will the press wake up, investigate, and report?

-- Uncle Fred (, September 21, 2000.

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