Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) today voted for legislation to temporarily suspend the filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) until the end of the year in order to reduce skyrocketing gas prices. The SPR is an emergency petroleum stockpile maintained by the Department of Energy (DOE).
The bill requires the DOE Secretary to suspend shipments to the SPR in 2008, or until the average price of crude oil falls below $75 a barrel. The SPR is roughly 97 percent fullthe highest level everwith enough oil to meet its national security mission.
"Everywhere I go in my district, people want to know what the federal government is doing to lower gas prices," Hare said. "While this is not a substitute for a long term energy policy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil, a temporary suspension of the SPR would provide working families long overdue relief at the pump."
Filling of the SPR takes 70,000 barrels of oil off the market each day and a temporary suspension could reduce gas prices from 5 to 24 cents a gallon. Gas prices in Illinois today climbed to $3.90 a gallona record high.
President Bush has the power to stop filling the SPR and Democratic leaders, along with 16 Senate Republicans have urged him to do so. In 2000, after President Clinton released 30 million barrels from the SPR, the price of oil dropped by one thirdfrom $30 to $20 per barrel.
"The SPR is usually only tapped for emergencies but I believe $4.00 for a gallon of gas qualifies as one," Hare said. "With President Bush offering nothing to solve the current energy crisis beyond more drilling, I am pleased that Republicans and Democrats in Congress took this common sense step to reign in rising gas prices."