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July 11, 2008


WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn today joined his colleagues in calling for President Bush to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve—an action taken at least three times by past presidents to combat supply shortfalls and high energy prices.  Clyburn also encouraged domestic oil and gas production on the more than 80 million acres of public land onshore and offshore currently open and available for energy production in America.  Following is a statement from the Majority Whip on the importance of addressing high gas prices:

“There are two oil men in the White House.  The average cost of gas is over $4 a gallon.  Oil recently hit a record high of almost $150 a barrel.  This is cause and effect.

“People are hurting because the Bush/Cheney administration, for almost eight years, has stood with big oil and big energy, instead of the American people.   For six years, the Bush/Cheney White House and a Republican-led Congress gave big oil every thing that it asked for and more.  Now, big oil is reaping huge profits on the backs of the American worker but refuses to explore and develop in millions of taxpayer-owned acres that are already available to them.

“Nationally, the struggling airline industry is reeling from high gas prices, having to cut back on services like baggage checks, movies and meals.  The Air Transport Association estimates that a $10 reduction in the price per barrel would save the industry about $4 billion a year.

“Gas prices and the staggering economy are driving down volunteerism, and contributions to non-profits.  A recent survey of the Meals on Wheels programs around the country shows 58 percent of the programs are losing volunteers due to rising gas prices, 38 percent are turning away needy clients, and nearly one-third are being forced to cut back on the frequency of deliveries.  For the first time its 25-year history, Meals on Wheels is rationing food, and they’re reporting that people are literally dying in their homes waiting for a meal.

“The impact is real at local levels.  In my state of South Carolina, we have some of the lowest gas prices, yet the state is facing a $12 million deficit to fuel school buses.  But if the price goes up, as it is expected to, by just $0.08, that would cost an extra million dollars for the school year.

“Small businesses see the impact on their bottom line. Their employees are having trouble filling their tanks and getting to work.  And customers don’t have the cash they once did to spend on goods and services.

“Families are fearful, communities are disintegrating and the American people have grown wary of the Bush/Cheney stonewalling of energy solutions. I join my colleagues in calling upon President Bush to take immediate steps to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.   And I encourage the energy industry to immediately start drilling on the more than 80 million acres of public land within which they currently have authority to drill.”


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