Congressional Hearing Set on High Heating Oil Prices

By Bob Melvin | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) announced on Thursday that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing on February 24th on Capitol Hill to examine the current high cost and low supply of home heating oil in the Northeast.

The committee also will seek information on the underlying causes of the sharp price rise and low supply and discuss the appropriate and inappropriate responses to these issues.

"The severity of the problem is such that we need to look at the causes and effects. The American public needs to understand what is happening in the crude oil markets and what is occurring in specific geographic areas to contribute to price spikes," Murkowski said.

"By the same token, we need to know the consequences of interfering with the market or removing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," Murkowski added. "Historically, we need to take a look at oil policy in this country. We are 56 percent dependent on foreign oil and the whims of the Oil Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). How did we get there? Is it a safe place to be?"

A previous hearing scheduled at the same time on the nomination of Thomas A Fry III to be Director of the Bureau of Land Management at the Department of the Interior has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.

On Wednesday, President Clinton allocated $125 million in relief assistance for families throughout the Northeast this winter who cannot afford home heating oil because of rapidly-rising prices.