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Welch says tap oil reserves now

March 14, 2011

NEAL P. GOSWAMI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON — President Barack Obama said Friday he is prepared to tap into the country’s strategic oil reserves as a means to lower skyrocketing gas prices if needed, but some, including Vermont’s lone congressman, believe the time has already come.

The president made the remarks at a White House news conference Friday afternoon, during which Obama offered extensive remarks on oil and energy. Rising gasoline and heating fuel prices caused by uncertainty following turmoil in the north African and the Middle East is impacting everyone, he said.

“In an economy that relies on oil, gas prices affect everybody — from farmers and truck drivers to restaurant owners and workers as well as consumers,” Obama said. “Businesses see rising prices affect their bottom lines. Families feel the pinch every time they fill up the tank. For Americans already facing a tough time, it’s an added burden.”

Oil reserves can be tapped, the president said, but did not elaborate on what might trigger such a move.
“Everybody should know that should the situation demand it, we are prepared to tap the significant stockpile of oil that we have in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” Obama said.
Welch, a Democrat, first called on Obama to tap the reserve last month. He and other members are currently circulating a letter in Congress that renews the call.Welch said on Friday that the reserve should be tapped now to start bringing prices down immediately.
“President Obama should follow the example of three of his predecessors and tap the oil reserve now to help bring down gas prices that are hitting Vermonters hard. Doing so will provide relief at the gas pump and send a signal to the marketplace that he is serious about using the tools available to him to stop speculators from profiting off higher prices,” Welch said.
Efforts will continue in Congress to pressure Obama, Welch said.
“While I am pleased that the president is considering when he should use this tool, I am continuing to round up congressional support to urge him to use it sooner rather than later,” he said.
Contact Neal P. Goswami atngoswami@benningtonbanner.com
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