GOP House members urge halt to SPR oil purchases

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 25 -- Nine US House Republicans on Apr. 23 called for a suspension of crude oil purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and stronger efforts to increase domestic refining capacity as steps in response to prices that have passed $100/bbl.

Reps. Roscoe G. Bartlett (Md.), Michael N. Castle (Del.), Vernon J. Ehlers (Mich.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.), Wayne T. Gilchrest (Md.), Timothy V. Johnson (Ill.), Ray LaHood (Ill.), Todd R. Platts (Pa.), and Christopher Shays (Conn.) said the SPR plays an important role in protecting the US from supply disruptions and should be maintained.

"However, a temporary acquisition suspension could prove useful in addressing prices that have increased over 50¢ in many communities across the nation just in the last year," they said in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

President George W. Bush previously suspended crude purchases for the SPR following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, they noted.

The nine GOP House members released their letter the day before Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Special Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, convened a hearing to examine whether crude oil purchases for the SPR should continue when prices are breaking records.

But they also included a call to streamline the permitting process for building new refineries or expanding existing plants without waiving environmental regulations as another move that could "speed the supply of fuel into the market."

"There has been discussion of a temporary suspension of the federal [gasoline] tax in an effort to immediately lower the price…at the pump. While this tax moratorium may have appeal, we urge you to protect funding for the Highway Trust Fund and critical infrastructure upgrades," they told Pelosi.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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