New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says President Bush and Vice President Cheney have been "more sensitive" to the needs of oil companies than to the needs of consumers and other businesses that’re paying record-high prices for gasoline.
Clinton suggests Bush and Cheney have a "bias" toward big oil. "The oil companies have been subsidized," Clinton says. "Now when they don’t need the money from the taxpayer because the price is so high, there’s been no effort by the administration to try to either diminish that subsidy or switch it to renewable fuels."
According to Clinton, President Bush should consider using his authority to dip into the strategic petroleum reserve to beef up supplies, as diminished supplies are blamed for the recent price spike in gasoline. "I remember my husband threatening to do that during one period of time and, low and behold, the prices started to drop," Clinton says.
Clinton has called on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy to examine the recent spike in gas prices. "This is just becoming too common an occurence," Clinton says. "We have reports of oil and gas refinery outages — something we heard last time the prices spiked. We need to investigate whether we need stronger inspections or other processes in place to ensure that refiners, number one, are leveling with us when they talk about refineries being down and, number two, that they invest adequately in maintaining and improving their facilities to avoid this in the first place."
Clinton cites the example of Enron, which she says was found to be deliberately shutting down refineries in order to manipulate prices.
Clinton is urging the lead committee in the U.S. Senate on energy issues to also investigate whether oil companies have been engaged in price gouging. "I think we’ve got enough questions that deserve answers," Clinton says.
Clinton made her comments during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.