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Democrats Take New Energy Tack

House Democratic leaders on Tuesday unveiled their latest plan for lowering gas prices: putting pressure on President Bush to use oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter Monday to Bush asking that he use his authority to release some of the crude oil held in the SPR in an effort to expand resources. The SPR is 97 percent full, the letter states, and drawing oil from it “will in no way jeopardize national security” if resources are drawn judiciously. In addition, oil from SPR deployment can enter the market 13 days after a presidential decision, the letter continues. “Deploying a small portion of the resources in the SPR would provide much needed assistance to American consumers facing record prices and help our economy during a serious period of instability.” The Speaker points to instances of oil being drawn from SPR in 1990 during Desert Storm, in 2000 in the face of rising oil prices and in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. Democrats are likely to pursue a legislative vehicle for drawing oil from the SPR if Bush does not take action. One such bill by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee, is already lying in wait. House Republican leaders said the letter supports their call for more drilling in the Arctic and offshore, an option not on the table for Democratic leaders. Pelosi “is admitting yet again” that the real solution to skyrocketing gas prices is boosting American energy production, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. “Until the Speaker and her colleagues in the liberal Democratic leadership of Congress unlock our nation’s vast natural energy resources, consumers will continue to see skyrocketing prices at the pump.”

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