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Congresswoman Maxine Waters Votes for Lower Gas Prices Through Suspension of Oil Purchases for Nation's Reserve Supply

July 20, 2009
Press Release

Concerned about rising gas prices, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) voted today to temporarily suspend the U.S. Department of Energy's purchase of oil to fill the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

Congresswoman Waters said, "With today's vote Congress is taking another step to lower gas prices and move the nation's energy policy in a new direction so Americans can enjoy a cleaner, safer future."

The national average price of a gallon of regular gasoline has climbed to a record $3.73.  In California, the average price for regular gas is $3.94, with premium gas averaging $4.26 per gallon and diesel at $4.67 according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Congresswoman Waters said, "At a time when many people in California are paying four dollars or more for a gallon of gas, we need to find ways to help families who are feeling the squeeze.  Instead of diverting 70,000 barrels of oil every day to keep in reserve, we should be making it available in the market.  Economists tell us this temporary suspension could reduce gas prices from 5 to 24 cents per gallon, which would help families, businesses and the overall economy."

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is about 97 percent full now – the highest level ever – with enough oil to meet U.S. national security needs.  Although the last three Presidents have all suspended or tapped the SPR previously, President Bush has refused repeated calls from Congress to halt deposits of oil now.

The legislation passed by the House today suspends filling the SPR through the end of the year unless the price of crude oil falls below $75 per barrel.  The Senate today passed similar legislation by a vote of 97-1.

The House will consider additional energy legislation before Memorial Day.