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August 17, 2005

Gov. Blagojevich urges President Bush to release oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve; Provide immediate relief from record high gas prices

CHICAGO – Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today called on President George W. Bush to help bring down the cost of gasoline in the United States by releasing additional oil supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  The Reserve is expected to reach capacity at 700 million barrels later this month.  In a letter, Gov. Blagojevich urged the President to use his authority to provide consumers relief from record-high gas prices.
“When gas prices soar, everyone suffers. Drivers pay more to get to work and to take their children to school. Farmers pay more to run their tractors. Truckers pay more to transport goods.  Other than the companies that sell oil and the countries who produce oil, everyone else pays more and no one wins,” wrote the Governor.  
“However, there is one way that you can help ease prices almost immediately: by releasing oil stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  Withdrawing oil from the reserve will increase the supply, which will lead to lower prices, and provide relief to consumers,” the Governor continued. 
Illinois residents are now paying an average of $2.62 per gallon at the pump?$0.10 higher than the national average, and $0.73 more per gallon than they paid for gas this time last year.
The Governor urged President Bush to use the country’s oil reserve to increase supply and bring temporary relief at the pump while the cost of foreign crude oil soars.  According to the United States Department of Energy, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will reach its full capacity of 700 million barrels this month. 
In his letter, the Governor pointed out that in 2000, an oil swap was used to withdraw 30 million barrels over a 30-day period.  The move helped bring prices down by more than $6 per barrel and wholesale gasoline prices by $0.14 per gallon.  At that time, a barrel of oil cost $33.  Today, that same barrel of oil costs $66. 
“Considering that the price of oil has more than doubled, it’s time to act,” wrote the Governor.
In Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich has boosted fuel supplies and helped reduce the demand for gasoline through three effective initiatives: promoting the use of renewable fuel, monitoring the gas consumption and encouraging State Government to use renewable fuels.
Promoting the use of Renewable Fuels:
Provided $80 million to further research, production and consumption of ethanol in Illinois, including:
·            Eliminated the state sales tax on some biodiesel fuels and E-85 (85% ethanol fuel), creating a $.15 per gallon tax break.
·            Established the Renewable Fuels Development Program at the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that is investing millions in new ethanol production in Illinois.
·          Tripled the number of E-85 fueling stations statewide to 44 with the goal of adding another 66 new E-85 stations statewide by the end of 2006. 
Monitoring Gas Prices
·        Issued an Executive Order ordering the Department of Revenue to monitor gas prices and created the Gas Monitoring Website www.illinois.gov/gasprices where people can
o       Check average gas prices in any city or town in Illinois
o       File a complaint if they suspect price gouging
o       Get tips for buying gasoline
o       Learn driving tips to get save fuel
o       Find information about public transit and other driving alternatives
o       Learn more about the petroleum industry
Encouraging State Government to Use Renewable Fuels
·        Issued Executive Order requiring state agencies and employees to use of ethanol and biodiesel in state fleet vehicles and expanding the number of E-85 capable vehicles.
·        Created an interagency Renewable Fuels Working Group to implement the executive order.
“Through these initiatives, we are working to make Illinois more self-sufficient. However, more can and must be done at the federal level to reduce the price of gasoline,” stressed the Governor.

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