Clinton Establishes NE Oil Reserve

President Clinton Monday directed Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to establish a home heating oil reserve in the Northeast. The regional heating oil is intended to reduce the risks presented by home heating oil shortages, such as the one that occurred last winter.

The plan calls for taking two million barrels of crude oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the new Northeastern stockpile.

The president issued the administrative order because the Senate has not acted on a House measure approving a reserve that would be used when price spikes cause financial problems in the Northeast.

Still, under current law, Mr. Clinton lacks the power to actually release the oil, and he wants that to change.

So he renewed his call for Congress to reauthorize the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which authorizes operation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and to authorize the establishment and operation of a permanent heating oil reserve in the Northeast with appropriate criteria for its use.

Also, the president again called for congress to reauthorize the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. He views these and other important steps, such as the Federal Trade Commission investigation of gasoline prices in the Midwest, as critical in the move toward reducing energy costs for American families and businesses.

He repeated his appeal to Congress to enact key parts of his comprehensive energy strategy, including his energy tax and investment packages and comprehensive electricity restructuring legislation

The president spoke just before departing for State College, Pa., to address the National Governors Association.

Last month, the House approved an amendment to a $21.7 billion spending bill for energy and water programs that would set up a 2 million barrel reserve that the energy secretary could tap into when price spikes cause financial hardships in the Northeast.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Don Sherwood, R-Pa., also reauthorizes the president's power to withdraw oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a 600 million barrel stockpile in Texas and Louisiana set up during the oil crisis of 1975 to help meet emergencies. The Senate has not acted on it.

The strategic reserve has been used only once, by President Bush during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

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