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Senators propose gasoline reserve
Under Schumer-Durbin plan, 40M barrels would be stored to prevent price spikes following a disaster.
September 30, 2005: 8:31 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two Democratic senators proposed legislation Thursday that would create an emergency gasoline and jet-fuel reserve.

"Our measure is an anti-spiking device," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters at a joint news conference with Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who co-wrote the proposed legislation. "What it does is, it says -- at times when there's an immediate shortage because of a natural disaster or a man-made disaster -- the federal government has an ace in the hole to keep prices from sky-rocketing out of control."

The proposed reserve would store 40 million barrels of unleaded gasoline and 7.5 million barrels of jet fuel in three to five "strategically significant regional locations" that would be selected by the secretaries of energy and homeland security.

The Schumer-Durbin proposal would give the president authority to release gasoline or jet fuel from the reserve, and governors would be able to request release of gasoline in case of supply shortfalls in their states.

Unlike the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which stockpiles crude oil, the proposed reserve would store the refined product.

"Having the strategic petroleum reserve, sadly, puts crude oil in the hands of refineries that can't refine it quickly enough to affect the market," Durbin said. "With this gasoline and jet-fuel reserve, we can have an immediate impact on the market."

A Department of Energy spokesman said the department was considering a reserve of refined product, among other options.

"These ideas are part of a larger discussion about addressing the need for more fuel supply, refining capacity conservation, technology improvements and alternative and renewable fuels," spokesman Craig Stevens said.

Durbin said he does not know how much it would cost to create the proposed reserve since it depends on gasoline price.

Gasoline also has a limited shelf life, and the senators said they weren't sure how the government would ensure the gasoline supplies were kept fresh.

--From CNN Washington Producer Pilar Tejerina


What's happening with prices at the pump? Click here.

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