Clinton acts to facilitate fuel deliveries

President Bill Clinton has ordered the US Coast Guard and the Department of Energy (DOE) to take extra measures to keep US harbors free of ice so that ships and barges can bring in heating oil. He also ordered them to work with states to relieve bottlenecks on roads, rivers, and pipelines.


President Bill Clinton has ordered the US Coast Guard and the Department of Energy (DOE) to take extra measures to keep US harbors free of ice so that ships and barges can bring in heating oil.

He also directed them to work with states to relieve bottlenecks on roads, rivers, and pipelines. A year ago, frozen harbors prevented barges from delivering home heating oil to New England, causing home heating oil prices to soar.

Clinton ordered the Transportation Department to inform state and local governments and private companies how to get their fuel truck drivers waivers from hours of service rules.

And he approved the release of $300 million in federal funds to help low income families buy fuel for heating.

In his Saturday radio address, Clinton noted that weather forecasters said November and December were among the coldest on record.

"All this, along with the increased demand for energy that has accompanied unparalleled economic growth, is putting enormous pressure on the energy supplies Americans need to heat their homes and businesses."

Last fall Clinton ordered DOE to release 30 million bbl of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, to be repaid later this year.

He said that action helped build distillate stocks in the Northeast. "I'm pleased to report that inventories of crude oil are up and prices have dropped substantially, from $37 to $26/bbl. Home heating oil prices also have fallen in recent weeks, and supply shortfalls have been cut by more than half.

"But even though heating oil prices have begun to ease, the cost of heating a home still is too high, especially for families on low and fixed incomes."

Clinton said the $300 million boost to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program was in addition to $400 million released Sept. 23 and $156 million on Dec. 18.

Most of the funds went to states in the Northeast and Midwest, with New York and Pennsylvania getting the largest shares. But all other states received funds due to higher natural gas and electricity bills.

The White House said DOE has estimated that heating oil prices will be 29% higher and natural gas prices will be 40% higher than last winter.

It said, "Low income households are especially burdened by fuel prices increases, forcing many families to forego other essential expenses in order to stay warm during the cold months."

Clinton asked the Small Business Administration to alert small firms about loans that would allow them to extend their energy payments.

More in Refining