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Gore Reiterates Plan to Lower Oil Prices at Campaign Event in Pennsylvania

Aired September 22, 2000 - 1:44 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A few moments ago, we dipped into a George W. Bush candidacy for president speech down in Florida. Now we want to take you to the other side, Al Gore is speaking in Vanport, Pennsylvania, to the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.


VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The inventories of heating oil are low. Gasoline prices have already gone up too fast and too high. And the predictions are that home heating oil prices will go higher unless something is done.

Now, yesterday, I talked about a number of steps that I think should be taken. And I think it's important to emphasize that this is a matter of great urgency for the families who are being hit in the pocketbooks.

I talked with a small business person just a short time ago in the other room whose profit for the year has just been completely wiped out because of the higher prices in the advanced contracts for heating oil that he's already had to pay. He's hanging on and we'll hope for better next year, lots of folks are having to do that.

I have talked with those on fixed incomes who are also facing higher prescription drug prices and living off Social Security, and then they find a huge 40 cents a gallon increase in their heating oil, and they can't -- they can't cope with it.

So I think it's important to act. I have recommended strongly that we have releases from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, several releases of five million barrels each, six or seven, to assure that the mechanism works well, and then continue with those swaps, and replenish it later on, when this period has passed, but get the extra supply into the pipelines and into the marketplace so there's not this tight pressure that keeps pushing the prices up for the people, and for the small business owners.

Secondly, I want to give tax credits to the oil distributors in return for beefing up their own inventories so that they have more on hand and they're better able, then, to give the lower prices for advanced contracts and they are better able to resist the price hikes that come with shortages. Next, I want to establish a permanent home heating oil reserve here in the Northeast, where 60 percent of all the home heating oil is used. That will take pressure off prices, not only in the Northeast, but in the rest of the country, because you won't have the pressure to bring it in from all the rest of the country, into this biggest part of the market in the same way, if we have this reserve.

And then, finally, I'm calling on the Congress to release now $400 million for the low-income heating assistance program, and then to increase the budget for that program, because the low-income families ought to be able to plan now, and the agencies, and individuals who help with low-income families ought to have the assurance today that they're going to have the resources, because if you buy early in the season you get a lower price. And that will save taxpayers money and it will also help out on the household budgets of the low-income families and all families.

And so I'm calling for these steps to be taken, six or seven releases of five million barrels each over the next month or so, And then, after an assessment of how that goes, to continue with the swaps: the permanent home heating oil reserve in the Northeast; tax credits for the distributors to build up their inventories; and low- income heating assistance.

Now, let me say that I think it's time to stand up to the apologists for big oil. I reject an agenda that is of big oil, by big oil, and for big oil.

I reject the agenda of those who say: Don't even offer a plan, do nothing about it. These prices are skyrocketing, it's hurting small businesses, it's hurting those on fixed income, it's hurting young families, and the prospect for higher prices ahead is going to cause even more trouble unless we act now.

We are not helpless. We can act. We have tools at our disposal. And I'm calling upon them. I'm calling for them to be used. And, in the process, as I say, I want to reject the agenda of big oil, and stand up to the apologists for big oil.

Now, let me say one other thing before I open the discussion. These are short-term measures. We need to also have a long-term policy that helps us move toward more energy independence so that we're not hostage to the agenda of big oil and foreign oil.

We need to develop our own domestic resources that production has gone up in the current administration here at home. We need to develop new technologies so that we can burn all of our fuels more efficiently and more cleanly.

We need to create millions of good new jobs in states like Pennsylvania, with workers like those here at the IBEW, and I appreciate the hospitality today. Create millions of good new jobs by getting out in front of the market for these new boilers and new furnaces and new cars and trucks and buses and revamped power plants, and new technologies that help us to conserve more energy, help us to burn more energy -- burn resources more cleanly and use it much more efficiently. And to get the new technologies out there, not only here in the United States, but to sell them to the rest of the world, and create all these new jobs in the process. That's what I think ought to be done.

Now, finally, before the discussion. I think one of the big factors involved here is whether or not we're going to have a president who is willing to fight for people, willing to stand up to big oil and foreign oil when that's necessary; whether we're going to have a president who is willing to listen to families and small business owners; or someone else.

And I'll tell you. I know one thing about the job of president: It is the only position in our Constitution that is filled by an individual who is supposed to have the responsibility to fight not just for one district or one state or a few or one group, but for all of the people, especially those who are having trouble make ends meet, those who most need somebody, who is willing to stand up and fight for them.

I went to the Congress 24 years ago, and I served eight years in the House, eight years in the Senate, and eight years as vice president. In all that time, I have never hesitated to take on big oil or the big pharmaceutical companies, or the HMOs, or whoever was operating in a way that was not in the best interests of the middle- class families of this country.

I am running for president to fight for you, to fight for the middle-class families of America, to help the working men and women of America. And I don't care who you have to take on in order to make things better, you got to be willing to stand up to them and do it.

And I promise you, if you entrust me with the presidency, as I've said before, I won't always be the most exciting politician, but I will work hard for you every day, I will fight for you every day, and I will never let you down. And this problem is one that we'll start with.

Thank you very much for coming here today.


ALLEN: Al Gore, in Pennsylvania, talking about the high price of oil and what he plans to do about it. He reiterated his stance again today that he believes the U.S. should tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He also wants to give tax credits to oil distributors to try to get prices down. He wants to establish a permanent home heating oil reserve in the Northeast. And he wants Congress to allocate more money for a home heating assistance program.

This is an issue that Al Gore has had an insiders' leg up on. As we reported, Clinton and Gore consulted by phone before Gore began yesterday -- Wednesday, excuse me -- to roll out his pronouncement that the president should use some of the government's stockpile to nudge oil prices.



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