September 19, 2006

Wyden Resolution on President to Push OPEC, Aid Gasoline Consumers

Legislation mirrors 2000 call by Abraham, Ashcroft for White House action; news reports indicate president did not contact Saudis to stop new production cut

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today introduced a Senate resolution calling on President Bush to pressure OPEC nations to increase oil production to help reduce gasoline prices in the United States. The Wyden resolution mirrors legislation authored in 2000 by the current U.S. Energy Department secretary, then-U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), and the current U.S. Attorney General, then-U.S. Senator John Ashcroft (R-Mo.), calling on the Clinton administration to pressure OPEC for higher output to stabilize oil prices. Wyden introduced the resolution following news reports that President Bush failed to contact Saudi Arabia, the largest OPEC member, in advance of the oil cartel's announcement that it would cut production by one million barrels a day at a time when U.S. gasoline prices remain at historic highs. OPEC voted Wednesday to proceed with that production cut. "The substance of this resolution is identical to [the] one introduced back on February 28, 2000 with our current Secretary of Energy as one of the principal sponsors. Back then it was clear that our Senate colleagues thought it was important to put some heat on OPEC," said Wyden. "Every Administration ought to be pushing OPEC in order to increase production. In 2004, when the Saudi foreign minister says he hasn't even been contacted, that he heard from reporters that the Administration was disappointed, that's not good enough for my constituents who are consistently paying some of the country's highest gas prices." The 2000 Abraham-Ashcroft resolution (S. Res. 263) called on President Clinton to "communicate to … [OPEC] and non-OPEC countries that participate in the cartel of crude oil producing countries … the position of the United States in favor of increasing world crude oil supplies so as to achieve stable crude oil prices." It passed the Senate unanimously during the 106th Congress. The Wyden resolution makes the same request of President Bush. As a candidate for president in 2000, then-Governor Bush stated that President Clinton should "get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say, 'We expect you to open your spigots.'" On Thursday, Secretary Abraham testified before a U.S. House of Representatives committee that President Bush had contacted most OPEC leaders about the cartel's planned production cut. On the same day, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told the Reuters news organization that he was not contacted.