Tapping the Strategic Oil Reserve

The Senate this week is expected to take up legislation that would make the Bush administration stop adding to the strategic oil reserve, already the largest emergency petroleum stockpile in the world. An analyst at Goldman Sachs has estimated that continuing to fill the reserve over the past few months has increased gas prices at the pump by as much as 25 cents a gallon. Sanders would not only stop the flow of oil into the reserve, but immediately release oil in order to send a strong signal th

The Senate this week is expected to take up legislation that would make the Bush administration stop adding to the strategic oil reserve, already the largest emergency petroleum stockpile in the world. An analyst at Goldman Sachs has estimated that continuing to fill the reserve over the past few months has increased gas prices at the pump by as much as 25 cents a gallon. Sanders would not only stop the flow of oil into the reserve, but immediately release oil in order to send a strong signal that the U.S. government is serious about lowering oil and gas prices.

The national average price of a gallon of regular gas rose on Monday to a record $3.718 a gallon, according to a survey of stations by AAA, the motorists' club, and the Oil Price Information Service. The Department of Energy expects prices to peak at a monthly average of $3.73 in June, but many independent analysts say national average prices could rise as high as $4.

The Energy Department this month will add another 3.8 million barrels to the strategic stocks. "That's not a big amount — representing just 0.6 percent of the 635 million barrels that will be consumed this month in the country. But with triple-digit oil prices, every drop counts," according to The New York Times.

The Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday on the legislation that would stop the Energy Department from adding to the stockpile.

Meanwhile, Sanders is a leading cosponsor of more comprehensive legislation that also would impose windfall profit taxes on oil companies, eliminate tax breaks for oil and gas companies, limit speculation in oil futures and give the government the power to prosecute price gougers.