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Smith Offers Condolences to Hurricane Victims, Welcomes Opening of Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Location: Washington, DC

Smith Offers Condolences to Hurricane Victims, Welcomes Opening of Strategic Petroleum Reserve
August 31, 2005

Urges Americans to conserve energy; keep hurricane victims in thoughts and prayers

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) today addressed the devastation of the Gulf Coast left by Hurricane Katrina.

"My deepest sympathy is with the victims of Hurricane Katrina and their families. The acts of courage that we have witnessed and the monumental recovery efforts underway serve as true examples of the human spirit," Smith said.

Smith also commended President Bush, the U.S. Department of Energy and Secretary Sam Bodman for making oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) available to refineries, to prevent interruption to the nation's oil supply by Hurricane Katrina, America's worst national disaster. In addition, Smith restated his belief that the government must further invest in alternative forms of energy and take additional steps toward conservation to alleviate America's dependence on foreign oil.

"The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was, in part, developed to prevent a natural catastrophe from interrupting the nation's petroleum supplies," said Smith. "I commend the administration's quick action, preventing families in New Jersey and across America from facing even higher gas prices caused by Hurricane Katrina."

Smith, who has long supported investment and development in alternative forms of energy, maintained that the nation must take steps to conserve and develop new sources of energy.

"As individuals and as a nation, we must be vigilant to conserve our energy use where possible," said Smith. "For our national security and our economic prosperity, we must work together to develop clean energy alternatives that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

The death toll from the storm currently stands at over 120 people, but officials have said they expect the true number to be much higher. In New Orleans, the collapse of two levees left nearly 80 percent of the city flooded with water reaching depths of 20 feet. Areas of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida also sustained major damage. Recovery efforts throughout these states have already saved hundreds people.

"After so much destruction, it is essential that rescue workers have our support to be able to deliver food, water, medical supplies and shelter to the areas that have sustained the greatest damage," said Smith. "I encourage all New Jerseyans and Americans to keep the hurricane victims and workers in their thoughts and prayers, and seek to help relief efforts in any way that they can."

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