CONTACT: Judy Dugan, 310-392-0522 ext. 305; or cell, 213-280-0175
April 16, 2008
New Oil Price Spike to $115 a Barrel Shows a "Two-Faced" White House That Takes Oil Off U.S. Markets While Blaming OPEC
Santa Monica, CA — As oil prices topped $115 a barrel today on futures
markets, President Bush continued his near-silence on the damage that
energy inflation is doing to consumers and the economy, said Consumer
Watchdog. The White House clings to a pallid strategy of blaming OPEC
even as it continues buying oil off the market at a rate of 1.5 million
barrels a month for a Strategic Petroleum Reserve that is already
filled to near-record levels.
“In 2006, President Bush dramatically announced that he would stop
taxpayer-paid purchases for the petroleum reserve in order to help
bring down prices,” said Judy Dugan, research director of Consumer
Watchdog. “Now, in a much more urgent situation, he has not taken even
this symbolic step to show seriousness in the face of serious economic
damage from energy prices.” (See news report of the 2006 announcement here.)
Consumer Watchdog (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights) recently asked President Bush to cease purchases for the
reserve, and also to begin releasing oil from the 700-million barrel
store to show his administration’s determination to quell volatility
and speculation in oil on futures markets. (See more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment here.) With the farm bill stalled, the Senate measure should be passed separately and sent quickly to the White House.
• Regulatory increase of the amount of margin funds that buyers must
put up in energy trades to help suppress speculation by traders who
will never take possession of a barrel of oil.
• Senate approval of a measure to withdraw $1.8 billion a year in
unjustified taxpayer subsidies to oil companies and use the funds for
development of job-creating green energy businesses. This measure,
passed by the House, has not been taken up in the Senate, where
opponents are using a filibuster tactic to require 60 votes for
passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby.
• Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national
gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of
gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes
prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in gasoline production.
Consumer Watchdog is a leading nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy
organization. For more information, see www.consumerwatchdog.org
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