May 13, 2008

Whitehouse Applauds Senate Vote to Suspend Oil Purchases for Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Move Will Increase Supply of Oil on Open Market and Help Lower Price at the Pump

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) applauded action by the U.S. Senate today to stabilize gas prices and give Rhode Islanders some relief at the gas pump. The Senate voted 97 to 1 in favor of suspending oil purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“Rhode Islanders have told me they are desperate for relief from steadily rising fuel prices, and this is an important first step,” said Whitehouse, a cosponsor of the measure. “Putting more oil on the market will drive down the cost of fueling up and help ease the strain of high gas prices on working families’ budgets.”

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is a massive stockpile of crude oil, owned by the federal government and maintained in the event of a disruption in fuel supplies or other emergency. It has a capacity of 727 million barrels of oil, and is now about 97 percent full, a significant reserve in the event of an emergency and the SPR’s highest level ever. Yet the Bush Administration continues to pump between 70 and 80,000 barrels of oil into the SPR each day, and has said it wants to double the size of the SPR to 1.5 billion barrels even as millions of Americans struggle with record fuel prices.

The Senate provision passed today will temporarily halt the delivery of oil to the SPR until December, or until the 90-day average price of crude oil drops to at least $75 a barrel. Last Friday, crude oil prices hit a record high of nearly $126 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has predicted that shutting off oil deliveries to the SPR would cut the price of gasoline by about four to five cents a gallon.


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