Senator Carl Levin, the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released a report prepared by the minority staff that reveals why gasoline prices soared under the Bush administration. It has to do with the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) and some odd decisions by the Department of Energy (DOE) after consulting with White House officials.
According to the Senate Report, the Bush administration added forty million barrels of oil to the nation’s reserves in 2002. That wouldn’t be a problem in and of it self. But the purchases represented an extreme change in energy policy; they were made in a strong market, with a tight supply of oil, which increased demand, which in turn pushed up the gasoline prices to their highest levels in twelve years.
The Senate report said in a one-month period in mid 2002 the Bush administration purchases caused crude oil prices to soar, raising the cost of heating oil by 13%, jet fuel by 10% and diesel fuel by 8%. The bottom line was the Bush policy change cost citizens between $500 million and $1 billion.
When crude oil jumps from $20 a barrel to $30, the Senate report says, the costs to U.S. taxpayers are an additional $1 million per day. “Over three months, the additional cost of filling the SPR approached $100 million,” which will ultimately be borne by U.S. taxpayers.
Why did Bush do it? For one thing, he was advised to do it. It has to do with the secret National Energy Policy advisory group headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney has steadfastly refused to release the names of those who advised the administration on energy matters. However, according to an article published in the Sunday Herald in Scotland (October 6, 2002), by Neil Mackay, it was former Secretary of State, James Baker who personally carried an advisory report to Cheney in April of 2001. Assembled at the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy of Rice University, the task force consisted of oil and energy executives. The report, Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century is referred to simply as the “Baker Report” or “report” below.
Read it and weep..
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