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NO. R-229. JOINT RESOLUTION STRONGLY URGING PRESIDENT CLINTON TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO ALLEVIATE THE SEVERE BURDEN THAT THE SUDDEN SHARP ESCALATION IN FUEL PRICES HAS PLACED ON VERMONTERS.

(J.R.H. 168)

Offered by: Representatives Molloy of Arlington, Alfano of Calais, Atkins of Winooski, Barbieri of Wallingford, Blanchard of Essex, Carmolli of Rutland City, Colvin of Bennington, Corren of Burlington, Costello of Brattleboro, Deen of Westminster, Deuel of West Rutland, Dominick of Starksboro, Doyle of Richmond, Emmons of Springfield, Flaherty of South Burlington, Gervais of Enosburg, Gretkowski of Burlington, Heath of Westford, Hoag of Woodford, Hooker of Rutland, Hube of Londonderry, Jordan of Middlesex, Keenan of St. Albans City, Kehler of Pomfret, Krasnow of Charlotte, Krawczyk of Bennington, Kreitzer of Rutland City, Lafayette of Burlington, Masland of Thetford, Mazzariello of Rutland City, McGrath of Ferrisburgh, Milkey of Brattleboro, Miller of Shaftsbury, Nuovo of Middlebury, Obuchowski of Rockingham, Osman of Plainfield, Partridge of Windham, Pembroke of Bennington, Perry of Richford, Poirier of Barre City, Postman of Brownington, Rusten of Halifax, Seibert of Norwich, Smith of Sudbury, Starr of Troy, Stevens of Newbury, Symington of Jericho, Tracy of Burlington, Vincent of Waterbury, Weiss of Northfield, Wheeler of Burlington, Wisell of Bristol, and Zuckerman of Burlington.

Whereas, Vermont's naturally cold and harsh winter climate, whose harsh fury has been fully displayed during the last 10 days, demands that an ample, and reasonably priced, supply of heating fuel must be readily available in the state during this most frigid time of year, and

Whereas, while all Vermonters suffer when the price of heating oil suddenly surges upwards, the impact on low income and elderly residents can be acutely severe, and

Whereas, over the past week, the average New York Harbor Spot Barge wholesale price has risen over 30 cents per gallon which in combination with an additional 30-cent premium in the open market has translated into an horrendous 61.75-cent increase in wholesale oil prices over a brief seven-day period, and

Whereas, during the week following the House Committee's first draft of this resolution, the price has gone up an additional 30 cents, and

Whereas, since November 1, the average retail price in Vermont for number 2 fuel oil has increased by 100 percent and for kerosene by over 100 percent, and

Whereas, these extraordinary high prices are being charged primarily in the Northeast, and

Whereas, these sharp and sudden price escalations are in addition to high increases of 35 percent for fuel oil and 24 percent for kerosene during 1999, and

Whereas, it was reported in the Rutland Herald of January 25 that one Rutland dealer's consumer fuel oil price rose from $1.03 per gallon to a $1.69 a gallon over just the last week, and

Whereas, these highly inflationary and deplorable price increases can be attributed to a production slowdown by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the recent cold weather, and

Whereas, these intolerable circumstances are already causing enormous suffering for the most vulnerable Vermonters, and

Whereas, an immediate and major response from the federal government to help alleviate the suffering of Vermonters is imperative, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly thank the President for releasing LIHEAP contingency funds which will assist Vermont's most needy residents in meeting their fuel requirements, and be it further

Resolved: That the President authorize the release of fuel from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves to assure that a sufficient supply of both heating and transportation fuel reaches Vermont, and be it further

Resolved: That the federal office of management and budget be requested to investigate the reasons for the high price of oil in the Northeast, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send copies of this resolution to President Bill Clinton, U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and to the members of Vermont's Congressional Delegation, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to provide copies of this resolution to the legislatures of the states in the Northeast, so that they can encourage their congressional delegations to respond to this issue.