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Burton summons Richardson to testify over oil prices

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With the price of oil higher than it has been in a decade, a congressional committee has asked Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to testify next week about what his agency plans to do to combat soaring energy prices.

House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Dan Burton wants to hear from Richardson, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman James Hoecker and representatives from oil companies and other business affected by high energy costs. The hearing is scheduled for September 21st.

Richardson
Richardson, who has been asked to testify before a congressional committee next week over oil prices, speaks to employees at the Oak Ridge National Labratory on Monday about plans to moderize the facility  

"With winter just around the corner and energy markets in turmoil, families and businesses face serious financial consequences," Burton, R-Indiana, said in a statement Monday.

Republicans have been critical of the Clinton administration for months, saying they lack a coherent energy policy and are too dependent on imports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries for U.S. oil and gasoline.

"Look, the administration said months ago that we were caught napping in this area, that OPEC has run up the price, it's created problems," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, told CNN's Late Edition on Sunday.

"It's bigger than the current shortage or high prices. We don't have a national energy policy. A lot of what we need could be supplied domestically," he said.

Some lawmakers, including members of the President's own party, have called on him to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to quash rising prices. But the administration has been reluctant to comply, saying the oil cache should be reserved for times of war or other major crises.

 
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