Menendez Calls For Release Of Oil Reserves To Fight Rising Gas Prices

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U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez

Updated at 9:47 on April 18, 2011

STATE – With fuel costs still on the rise, Sen. Robert Menendez again called upon President Barack Obama to release 50 million gallons of oil from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserves.

The average price for a gallon of gas in New Jersey is currently $3.61, according to the AAA. That’s up almost 20 cents from prices just one month ago. Menendez released a new analysis showing how the rising gas prices will impact families heading to the beach, workers commuting to the office, or someone just going to the movies.

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For instance,

  • A Paramus worker commuting to New York City will pay an extra $380 at the pump this year.
  • A Montclair businesswoman traveling to Newark Airport 20 times a year will pay an extra $20.40 over last year, before paying inflated parking and flight costs.
  • A Princeton resident commuting to Trenton will pay an extra $210 at the pump per year.

“We have to help struggling families now and prevent our economy from falling backwards into a recession,” Menendez said. “It’s simply wrong for New Jersey families to feel pain at the pump while oil companies do nothing and continue to reap the tax benefits that put our future economic security in jeopardy. A year after the largest spill in history, it is clear: Big Oil is Not on Our Side. The steps I have proposed will ease the burden on already struggling families now while we continue working to win the future.”

Others argue that this is not an appropriate use of the nation’s oil reserves. “The SPR is exactly what it says it is – a strategic asset that is to be used only in limited, emergency situations,” saidSal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association.

“Looking to recent history, SPR was only used successfully during emergency circumstances, such as in the early 1990s during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and right after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf States.  Whenever SPR was used outside of these purposes – such as when President Clinton opened the Reserve in 2000 to help lower fuel prices – the effects on the market were negligible.  In fact, when President Clinton announced the that SPR would be tapped, prices at first fell slightly but stopped soon-after since Saudi Arabia cut its production to match the release.”

Menendez is also pushing for measures to rein in speculation on oil futures, keep more U.S.-produced oil in America, repeal tax breaks for oil companies, increase fuel efficiency standards, and promote the use of vehicles powered by electricity and natural gas. The New Jersey Democrat has also proposed investing $2 billion to help the nation’s mass transit systems maintain service and lower fares.


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