Salazar: End energy stalemate |

Salazar: End energy stalemate

DENVER, Colorado ” Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar is calling on President Bush to release 70 million barrels of oil from an emergency reserve to lower gas prices in the short term, and is pushing a crackdown on oil speculation as part of a long-term solution.

During a news conference Wednesday at a Denver gas station, the Democrat said that other presidents have released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in similar situations.

The price of gasoline has exceeded $4 a gallon, although the national average fell to $3.871 Wednesday because of declining oil prices.

“To help ease the supply pinch at this critical moment for our economy I renew my call for the president to immediately release 70 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” Salazar said.

He also advocated comprehensive legislation to break the congressional deadlock on energy. Congress adjourned Friday for a five-week summer break after failing to pass a bill.

Salazar said a good place to start is a proposal by a 10-member, bipartisan group of senators. The so-called “Gang of 10” has suggested lifting some offshore drilling bans, conservation, research and development of alternative-fuel vehicles and extending tax credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency through 2012.

Congress must move beyond simply promoting more oil drilling as the way to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, Salazar said.

“I have supported and continue to support responsible development of our domestic oil and gas supplies, including offshore,” Salazar said, “but the truth is that a ‘drill-only’ approach won’t bring down gas prices, won’t break our dependence on foreign oil and is incomplete.”

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., doesn’t believe that opening the oil reserve will lower gas prices, said his spokesman, Steve Wymer.

“Sen. Allard has said that’s like throwing a cup of coffee into the ocean and expecting it to rise,” Wymer said. “He knows that there is no solution to our energy crisis that doesn’t involve increasing domestic energy production.”

Allard also supports developing renewable energy sources, Wymer said.

Bush has lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling that was imposed when his father was president. Congress must lift it, too, before drilling can occur.

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