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The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed our nation's energy, economic and national security challenges during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

This is an archived version of the committee's website, where the public, students and the media can continue to access and learn from our work.

Letter to Bush Admin, Time to Buy Oil for Strategic Reserves


Contact: Select Committee, 202-225-4081

Markey: Bush Administration New Year’s Resolution Should Be to Buy Oil for Reserves

WASHINGTON (December 30, 2008) – Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and other lawmakers today called upon the Department of Energy to resume buying oil for America’s national oil reserves, calling it the prudent response to lower oil prices, just as stopping the fill of the reserves was a prudent response when oil rose above $100 per barrel. Rep. Markey, along with Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), were principal authors of the bill that forced the Bush administration to stop filling the reserves in May of 2008.

“At current prices, a smart New Year’s resolution for the Bush administration is to start buying oil again for our national reserves,” said Rep. Markey, who is Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “Just as it was prudent to stop buying oil at record high prices, we should continue to fill the reserves now that prices have plummeted. That’s sensible fiscal policy, plain and simple.”

The letter, sent by Reps. Markey and Welch to DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman, explains that while the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Fill Suspension and Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-232), which was enacted into law on May 19, 2008, mandated that the Department suspend filling the SPR through December 31, 2008, lower prices now dictate a need to start buying oil once again. The legislation said that oil could be purchased again when average prices dipped below $75 per barrel for 90 consecutive days. However, because oil has declined so precipitously—by more than $100 since the high of $147 this summer— the letter says “once again entering into contracts to fill the SPR would appear to be financially prudent for the Department, and consistent with Congressional goals for this program.”

The letter notes the recommendation of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the Department seek to “acquire more oil [to fill the SPR] when prices are low and less when prices are high.” GAO has estimated that had the Department of Energy filled the SPR using a constant dollar value rather than a constant volume between 2001 and 2005 it could have reduced costs to taxpayers by more than 10 percent, saving approximately $590 million.


To download a PDF of the letter, please CLICK HERE.

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PLEASE NOTE: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was created to explore American clean energy solutions that end our reliance on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution.

The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.

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