Locals sound off on strategic oil reserve vote

The House today voted 385-25 to approve H.R. 6022, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Fill Suspension and Consumer Protection Act of 2008, which would temporarily suspend the filling of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve until the end of the year in order to increase consumer supply and bring down gas prices. The U.S. Senate passed an amendment earlier today with this SPR provision; that vote was 97-1.

Here’s what some Bay Area lawmakers had to say about it:

Education & Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“Economists agree that temporarily suspending these deliveries will offer some relief at the pump by freeing up additional oil supplies to the broader market. It is, of course, not the only thing Congress can and should do to help consumers, but it is one concrete step that we have taken to help people now. President Bush is wrong to oppose our bill and I urge him to reconsider his position and approve it. The President should stop saying ‘No’ to every idea that is presented to him to help consumers struggling under exorbitant gas prices.”


“Combined with the housing crisis and a struggling economy, skyrocketing gas prices are having a devastating impact on the American people. Our bill is expected to increase supply for oil and lower gas prices anywhere from 5 to 24 cents per gallon without any risk to American security and oil supplies.”

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo:

“We can’t wait around for a silver bullet to bring gas prices back to where they were even just a few years ago, that is not going to happen. Instead we need to adopt incremental adjustments like this that take some of the pressure off American families. If the President is serious about giving American families economic relief then he needs to get on board with the Congress and adopt this bipartisan legislation as well as future measures that will cut the cost of gas; every little bit helps.”

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton:

“With gas prices close to or over $4 a gallon in parts of California, it’s far past time to take a common sense step like this one to provide a bit of relief.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, Congress took action on a real solution to lower the price at the pump. By suspending deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve we can save consumers from 5 to 24 cents per gallon. This is a critical first step for America’s families, businesses and our economy and, as the President said in 2006 when talking about the impact of suspending deliveries to the SPR, ‘every little bit helps.’

“In the past, when the SPR has been tapped or deliveries have been suspended, consumers saw real savings. In 2000, after similar action, the price of oil dropped by one-third. By acting today, the New Direction Congress can reduce prices for Americans who are stretching their budgets to afford the high price at the pump.

“The President and Congressional Republicans maintain that we must act to open up ANWR and large swaths of the outer continental shelf. Even if we started drilling today in ANWR, we wouldn’t see one drop of oil for 10 years, and the price at the pump would only be reduced by a little over one penny per gallon in the year 2030.

“The United States cannot drill its way to energy independence. As a nation, we have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, but use 24 percent of the world’s oil. The President and Congressional Republicans should abandon the ‘drill and veto’ policies of the past and work with Democrats to lower record gas prices at the pump by holding OPEC accountable for its cartel-pricing activities, investigate and punish price gougers and market manipulation and repeal the unnecessary subsidies to Big Oil in a time of record profits to invest in renewables.”

“In both the House and Senate, we have demonstrated strong bipartisan support for temporarily suspending deliveries to the SPR. The House and Senate will work to finalize this legislation and send it to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.