US Must Demonstrate Willingness to Immediately Tap SPR, Schumer Says

President's Proposals Has Good Points, But Will Not Avert Crisis in the Summer Months


US Senator Charles E. Schumer today released a statement after President Clinton's radio address concerning the nation's skyrocketing oil prices and plummeting inventories.

"President Clinton's proposals to deal with the nation's oil crisis are timely and welcome. The four point plan he outlined is beneficial in the longterm, but unfortunately will provide no shortterm relief to the millions of American families suffering from skyhigh gas prices. Prices at the pump are already about 50% higher than they were this time last year, and will continue to climb in the summer months if the United States does not take action.

"The Administration has indicated that   no decision will be made on whether to release oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve until after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries oil ministers meet on March 27 and announce their production plans. It is critical that the United States make clear to OPEC, publicly or privately, that we stand ready to immediately release oil from the Reserve if the OPEC ministers do not agree to a   substantial production increase one that will rebuild our depleted supply as well as bring down high prices.  

"We cannot let OPEC set the rules any longer. Their production cutbacks over the past two years have removed more than 4 million barrels of oil per day from the world market and have brought global and US oil and gasoline inventories to 20 year lows.  
The president must have a backup plan should OPEC not release the amount necessary to bring down prices. I support the President's attempts to negotiate a production increase with the OPEC ministers, but I feel strongly that we must back up those negotiations with the credible alternative of promptly using the SPR if those negotiations are unsuccessful."

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