U.S. legislators are responding cautiously to statements from Saudi
Arabia that hint at possible further increases in oil production,
saying the United States must do more on its own to reduce its
dependency on foreign sources of fuel. From Washington, VOA's Michael
Saudi Arabia's oil minister (Ali al-Naimi) says
the kingdom is willing to boost crude production if sufficient demand
exists for the commodity. The remarks came at an oil summit in Jeddah,
where Saudi Arabia said it is already increasing production by 200,000
barrels per day, but would consider an even higher output.
Washington, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy
Independence, Massachusetts Representative Edward Markey, seemed
unimpressed by the Saudi pronouncement.
"It may have a marginal
impact [in moderating oil prices]," said Congressman Markey. "But in
the end, this crisis is really caused by 12 years of Republican control
of Congress. We have gone from 46 percent dependence [on foreign oil]
when the Republicans took over the House and Senate in 1995 to 61
percent dependence on imported oil today. We have had an oil and gas
agenda. We have thwarted the renewable energy agenda."
Markey was speaking on ABC's This Week program. Democrats took control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections.
Republicans, including President George Bush and the party's
presumptive presidential nominee Senator John McCain, agree with
Democrats in urging expanded use of alternative energy sources. But
Mr. Bush and McCain are also calling for expanded domestic oil drilling
to boost America's crude supplies.
Also appearing on ABC's This
Week, Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas blasted
Democrats for opposing new drilling off U.S. coastlines and other areas
Democrats have thwarted every effort we have made to increase our
[domestic oil] supply," said Kay Bailey Hutchison. "This is a
supply-and-demand issue. The demand has skyrocketed mainly because of
global [consumption] increases, and we have not done anything about
supply. Drilling off-shore on a state-by-state basis is something I
think we could do very environmentally safely."
experts say oil prices have risen, in part, due to speculation by
energy traders. The head of the American Petroleum Institute, Red
Caveney, says there is a simple way to counteract expectations of
continually higher fuel prices that drive market speculation.
you need are permanent solutions," said Red Caveney. "That is the
signal the markets are looking for. Any scenario you look at, you will
find that you need all the energy we can get of every kind."
Caveney echoed calls for increased U.S. oil drilling.
expert argued that, for years, the United States has underinvested in
technologies to make automobiles more fuel-efficient. Jeffrey Sachs,
who directs Columbia University's Earth Institute, says the United
States has catch-up work to do if it wants to become energy independent.
McCain and his presumed Democratic rival for the presidency, Senator
Barack Obama, say major investments will be needed in renewable and
alternative energy sources. Unlike McCain, Obama opposes new off-shore
oil drilling and has proposed imposing a windfall profits tax on U.S.