The Clinton administration may be taking a second look at Sen. Charles E. Schumer's proposal that the government sell off some of its reserve oil stocks to stabilize the price of home heating oil and gasoline.
While the White House said Wednesday that the president would not agree to the proposal by the New York Democrat, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said Thursday that both the White House and his department are "seriously considering" the plan. "But no decision has been made," Richardson said.
Richardson made the comments during a conference call with reporters from Bloomberg News, Reuters and other news organizations.
In letters to Clinton and Richardson, Schumer urged the administration to release "several hundred thousand barrels a day" of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The reserve now holds enough crude to supply this country for two months if all foreign sources were cut off.
The letter created a hot potato for Clinton, leaving open the possibility that if the president does not act that residents in New York and other high-consumption states would be paying $1.50 a gallon for gasoline and up to 40 percent more for home heating oil.
Cathy Levine, Schumer's press secretary, said he has not received a reply to his letters.