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WASHINGTON - President Clinton today decided to direct the release of oil from U.S. emergency reserves.
The decision was made after a meeting with key advisers at the White House and a day after Vice President Al Gore urged the president to use the reserve as leverage to try to head off soaring heating oil costs this winter.
SabbatiniM 9/22/2000 Energy Secretary Bill Richardson scheduled a news conference on oil issues later Friday.
Details of how much oil will be released or the timetable could not immediately be learned.
Oil was last released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in 1991 during the Gulf War.
Administration officials briefed some members of Congress on the release. Northeast lawmakers have clamored for use of the government oil to rein in oil prices, which in recent days peaked at nearly $38 a barrel.
Campaigning in Pennsylvania, Gore, the Democratic presidential candidate, reiterated his call Friday for use of the oil reserve a government stockpile of 571 million barrels of crude to ease tight oil supplies and reduce prices.
Gore urged use of 5 million barrels of the reserve's oil initially, followed by several other releases of about the same amount. It was not known whether the president adopted that plan.
The proposed oil release brought sharp criticism from Republicans including Gore's rival, George W. Bush, a former Texas oilman, who said that the reserve was designed to address critical supply interruptions and not to manipulate the market.