Cheryl Seal
Millions of gals of US heating oil exported despite crisis
Sun Oct 9, 2005 17:44

NEW YORK, Oct. 7 /U.S. Newswire/ -- HEAT USA, the largest consumer heating oil buying group in the nation has collected over 20,000 signatures from its members demanding that the Bush Administration halt all exports of heating oil until the 2005- 2006 heating season is over.

According to the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, major oil companies have exported over 90 million barrels of heating oil in the first two quarters of 2005, an amount close to 50 times the volume of the Northeast Heating Oil Reserve.

Much attention has been focused in recent weeks on the lack of refinery capacity in the United States. Many consumers might be shocked to know that despite this lack of capacity, and despite massive increases in the cost of energy, major oil companies continue to export vital distillate fuels like heating oil and gasoline.

"If there is a shortage of heating oil for consumers this winter, it will not be due to Hurricane Katrina, or Hurricane Rita. It will be because the major oil companies are selling vital distillate to foreign nations," said HEAT USA President Andrew Heaney. "Unless the government addresses this before the onset of winter, shortages are a virtual certainty."

"Unlike the electricity crisis in California, this is a totally legal means of price manipulation by major oil companies. Eventually there must be some kind of regulatory oversight of their behavior, otherwise they will continue to sacrifice the safety of American citizens in the interest of maximizing shareholder returns," said Heaney. "The one thing our government can do now is enforce a temporary ban on exports until the end of the winter. This is not a free market issue, it is a safety issue. The United States Government must step in now, or tens of thousands of Americans may be forced into shelters because they can't afford to pay their heating bill."

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