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Special Event

Secretary Richardson Testifies Before Senate Panel on Future Supply of Oil and Energy Reserves

Aired September 26, 2000 - 10:49 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And on that very note, we want to go back to Capitol Hill. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson testifying before Congress on the future supply of oil and energy reserves.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

BILL RICHARDSON, ENERGY SECRETARY: ... bear the burden of high energy prices this winter.

Second, he's asked the Environmental Protection Agency to help states identify ways to use different kinds of home heating oil, while minimizing environmental consequences.

This could help defer their billed home heating oil inventories. The president is also directing federal agencies to make early, contractual commitments to purchase heating oil this winter so the wholesalers will have the confidence to build inventories in advance.

He is requesting that state public utility commissioners ensure that factories and businesses that use heating oil as a backup fuel keep adequate reserves.

And finally, the president has directed me to meet with the National Petroleum Council to discuss heating oil production this fall and winter. This meeting will be held this week.

These actions strengthen our energy security, as they follow on other initiatives created to temper volatility in the oil markets. To deal with the effects of this volatility on consumers, this administration had already released nearly a third of a billion dollars to help low-income families pay their bills for heating oil, natural gas, and electricity.

The president asked for $600 million more in low income housing energy assistance funds, which were finally approved in July. The president requested an additional $19 million from Congress for low- income home weatherization funds, which were and included in the Supplemental Appropriations Act. The House and Senate have also underfunded our FY2001 request for weatherization assistance, as they have every year since FY1994.

Mr. Chairman, we found this program to be a very effective way for families to lessen their demand for heating oil, natural gas and electricity, and in turn, lessen their winter energy bills. We need to have this critical source of release increased in confidence.

Beyond these actions, the Clinton administration also took a new step, creating a $2 million barrel northeast heating oil reserve to be used to augment supplies if they are needed. Sites have already been chosen and contracts for their oil were met last month. And oil is coming into the reserve ahead of schedule.

We need the Congress to approve a reasonable trigger for releasing the heating oil in the reserve, as well as the funding to continue the reserve beyond this winter.

We have renegotiated oil delivery schedules for the Strategic Petroleum Reserves royalty fill program so that millions of barrels of oil go into the market instead.

Mr. Chairman, let me remind you that Congress has delayed action to extend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which authorizes two central components of our nation's energy security: the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and our participation in the International Energy Agency.

We have also addressed the issue of supply through increased Coast Guard support for tanker movements during the freezing weather. Small business loans...

KAGAN: We have been listening to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson as he testifies before a Senate panel. A lot of concern, as the winter months are just around the corner, about heating oil and gasoline prices. The secretary giving some suggestions of things the president has ordered him to do in order deal with some of those prices and helping low income folks.

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