WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. House has voted 385 to 25 to halt oil
shipments into the government's emergency petroleum reserve.
Backers of the bill say the oil should be put on the market to
lower energy prices. The Senate earlier passed a similar measure.
But the White House said President Bush opposes stopping the
shipments of about 70,000 barrels a day and believes such a small
amount wouldn't affect gasoline prices.
Democrats and Republicans joined in the call to suspend the
shipments for the rest of the year. The Senate vote was 97 to 1.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve contains 701 million barrels of
oil, about 97 percent of its maximum capacity.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a system of salt caverns
along the Southeast Texas and southwestern Louisiana Gulf coast. It
was created to respond to major oil supply disruptions. It now
holds 701 million barrels and is at 97 percent of capacity.
Suburban Houston Democrat Nick Lampson is a co-sponsor of the
House bill. He and Waco Democrat Chet Edwards had filed a similar
bill in January proposing the government suspend its purchases of
oil for the strategic reserve. The bill called for investing the
resulting savings into alternative energy research.
But House Republican Joe Barton of Ennis opposed the measure. He
says it's "ludicrous" to suggest - as some Democrats did - that
putting this modest amount of oil into the market could shave 25
cents off the price of a gallon of gas. Barton called it
Senate Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas had written a
letter to President Bush in mid-April, asking that he halt the
shipments to the strategic reserve. Senate Republican John Cornyn
of Texas and several other senators signed on to her letter.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)