For the second time in 11 months, Congressman Ed Markey stood in front of the gas pumps at a Medford filling station and called on President Barack Obama to use the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to combat rising gas prices.
"While some of the Republican presidential candidates call for an attack on Iran, it is the American consumers who are currently under attack from OPEC, from the Saudis from Iran and from oil speculators," Markey, who represents Waltham, said before a gaggle of news cameras Wednesday afternoon.
The sign behind him at Medford Gas on Main Street read $3.67 per gallon of unleaded gas, and prices are expected to climb as much as 20 cents per gallon in coming days.
Markey blamed the rising prices on oil-rich nations and the oil industry. Iran won't sell oil to Great Britain and France, and Saudi Arabia cut its oil production in December by 237,000 barrels per day, Markey said.
"In their view, the welfare of the global economy is secondary to keeping oil prices up," he said.
But the nations fuel reserve can be used to loose the grip of foreign oil on U.S. prices, said Markey, a member of the Natural Resources Committee and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is to the oil industy what kryptonite is to Superman," Markey said.
Markey previously called on the President to use the nation's oil preserve to avoid a recession last spring in a press conference at the same gas station. Obama used the reserve; oil prices dropped about 8 percent.
A letter sent Wednesday from Markey and two other members of the House, Reps. Peter Welch and Rosa DeLauro, to Obama calls for him to again use the reserve.
Markey: "Republicans are Completely Hypocritical"
Following his speech, Markey chastised Republicans for their stance on energy policy during a brief session with reporters.
"The republicans are completely hypocritical," Markey said. "On the one hand, they support tax breaks for the oil industry to the tune of 4 billion dollars a year, 40 billion over a 10 year period, while they are simultaneously calling for an elimination of the tax breaks for the wind industry...That kind of hypocrisy is absolutely not going to wash it with the American public."
Keystone XL Pipeline Debate Not Over
Markey failed in an attempt last week to add an amendment to the bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline that would have prevented oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to be exported. The bill was passed by the House without the amendment last Thursday, but the debate is expected to resume in the Senate.
Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, is bringing forth the same amendment to the Senate and it has the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Markey said.
"I think there's going to be a lot more heard from this issue of whether or not the Keystone pipeline does provide oil for our country," Markey said. "The American Petroleum does not care whether the oil stays here, so what is the benefit to our country?"
"Why would we allow a pipeline to be built through our country over our aquifers so we can help the Canadians move their oil from Alberta to Asia?" Markey said. "It makes no sense if we're trying to reduce our own oil prices."