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Washington, DC— This week’s Senator Murray (D-WA) delivered the weekly Democratic Radio Address.  Democrats are committed to both short- and long-term solutions to record-breaking energy prices, Murray says, but President Bush and Republicans in Congress continue to stand in the way of both.

The text of the radio address, as delivered, is below:

“Good morning, this is United States Senator Patty Murray.  Last Sunday I pulled into the gas station near my home in Washington State and paid $4.45 per gallon.  Just a year ago, who could have imagined $4.45 for gas?  Now, sadly, prices like this are a reality for families all across America.

“We all know that there’s no simple solution to this crisis.  America needs a long-term energy plan that reduces our dependence on oil by investing in alternative fuels – but there are reasonable steps we can take to reduce oil prices now.

“Recently, you’ve probably heard about drilling for more oil, and as long as it is done responsibly, that’s something Democrats support.  Oil companies already lease 68 million acres of federal land, which could nearly double U.S. production.  They just aren’t using it.  That oil won’t drill itself.  We believe it’s time for the oil companies to use that land – and to make sure that it stays in America – instead of shipping it to the highest bidder overseas.

“Democrats also think it is time to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Right now we have more than 700 million barrels of oil sitting underground in Texas and Louisiana that can be used in times of emergency.  When President Bush’s father tapped into the oil reserve in 1991, prices went down immediately.  I don’t know what President Bush thinks, but four and half dollar-a-gallon gas is an emergency for America’s families.  When was the last time the President filled his own tank?

“In addition, Democrats believe we must rein in Wall Street and traders who are unfairly driving up oil prices.  With regard for nothing but their own profits, some traders are bidding up oil prices by buying huge quantities of oil just to resell at an even higher price.

“You see, these traders never plan on actually using the oil they buy. They just keep buying it to inflate the price so that they can make more and more money when they turn around and sell it.  The problem is, families like yours and mine are stuck paying the bill.

“For nearly eight years now, the Bush Administration has turned a blind eye and let these questionable practices continue with virtually no oversight.  Some experts say that this kind of trading accounts for 20 to 30 percent or more of what we pay at the pump. 

“Nothing is certain in the oil markets, but experts agree the steps I’ve talked about should help to bring oil prices down and help families make ends meet.  We hope that President Bush and Senate Republicans will join us to reduce energy prices in the short term. 

“In 2001, when President Bush took office, gas was $1.46 a gallon.  Today, in my state, it’s more than triple that. Clearly there’s something wrong with these tired policies. 

“But there’s a major difference between Democrats and Republicans on energy: Bush-McCain Republicans haven’t come up with anything more than drill, drill, drill.  Even John McCain recently admitted that his offshore drilling proposal has mainly ‘psychological’ benefits.  Our families don’t need to ‘feel better’ about spending $4 dollars and a half per gallon.  American families need real action that gets real results.

“That’s why we need to get serious about investing in the clean, renewable fuels that can power our cars, homes and offices in the future.  Wind, solar, and geothermal power are becoming more affordable every day.  And every day, American scientists, innovators and venture capitalists are researching new technologies that could one day end our addiction to oil forever.  We should fast-track their efforts by making new investments and keeping their taxes low.  Democrats have repeatedly tried to provide tax credits for alternative energy, but each time, Republicans have said no.

“We’ve tried things the Republican way for nearly eight years now.  Unfortunately all we’re hearing from them now are gimmicks and tired old ideas – the status quo.  With record gas prices and our economy spiraling deeper into recession, Democrats think it’s long past time for a bold new direction.  We hope that you do, too.

“This is Senator Patty Murray from Washington state.  Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.”