Senate Democrats

Reid: We Need the Truth From Big Oil

Washington, DC - Today, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on the allegations that oil company executives may have lied to Congress in testimony last week:

“It’s no surprise that big oil was involved in writing the Bush administration’s energy policy. However, when the big oil companies came to Congress to testify about their record profits, we expected that they would tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Today, we learned that this was a standard they were not prepared to meet. This is unacceptable. I join my Democratic colleagues in demanding that these oil executives by brought back to the Congress, sworn in, and forced to testify again about their involvement with Vice President Cheney’s secretive energy task force and all of the issues covered in the hearing.

“This policy written by the energy companies for the energy companies is hurting American consumers with record prices this year. We need to get to the truth so that we can get relief to American families. We can do better.”

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[The text of a letter sent by Senate Democrats to Chairmen Stevens and Domenici below]

November 16, 2005

Honorable Ted Stevens
Chairman
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
United States Senate
Dirksen Building, Room 364
Washington, DC 20510-6125

Honorable Pete Domenici
Chairman
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
Hart Building, Room 522
Washington, DC 20510-6125

Dear Chairmen Stevens and Domenici:

We were troubled to read allegations detailed in this morning’s Washington Post that cast doubt on the truthfulness of testimony offered by oil company CEOs at last week’s joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Energy Committees. Prior to the hearing, many of us officially requested that the witnesses–and in particular, the oil company CEOs–be sworn in to testify under oath. That request was denied. But in light of today’s revelations, we respectfully request that you reconvene hearings as soon as possible to take these witnesses’ sworn testimony about their roles in the Cheney energy task force and the recent run-up in American fuel prices.

Recalling these witnesses is crucial for at least two reasons. First, the integrity of this institution demands that false statements before Senate Committees must not be tolerated. As such, the implications of these witnesses’ testimony regarding the Vice President’s energy task force must be more fully explored.

Second, when one element of a witness’ testimony is called into question, it raises additional concerns about other statements offered during the course of a hearing. Many of us asked questions of these witnesses designed to help us understand the factors contributing to record-setting and tremendously volatile fuel prices, which are harming consumers, businesses and the American economy as a whole. But just as Majority Leader Frist has stated, the oil company executives who testified “did not… adequately answer the question of whether the sky-high gas prices we saw earlier this fall were entirely justified, and whether their companies’ profit margins are appropriate given the hardships energy consumers are facing and will continue to face this winter.” Recalling these witnesses to testify under oath will help us answer many of these lingering questions, and bolster the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the Senate’s investigation into this matter.

We believe the American people deserve real answers about the causes of the recent run-up in fuel prices. Given the complexities of national and international fuel markets, getting these answers will require more than a single hearing–and further requires that we demand the truth from witnesses who come before the United States Senate.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

Sincerely,

Maria Cantwell – United States Senator
Frank Lautenberg – United States Senator
Barbara Boxer – United States Senator
Diane Feinstein – United States Senator
Tim Johnson – United States Senator
John Kerry – United States Senator
Ron Wyden – United States Senator
Bill Nelson – United States Senator

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