Congress Holds Hearings on Rapidly Rising Gas Prices

With record crude oil prices hitting $119 dollars a barrel this week, congressional lawmakers held a hearing Thursday to find ways to encourage the world's oil producers, "OPEC" to boost supplies.

Meanwhile, some oil experts say there are ample crude and gas supplies.
And the world's oil producers blame a weakening dollar and market speculation for price jumps.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill explored ways the U.S. Can pressure OPEC to increase oil supplies.

One suggestion: have the bush administration temporarily stop buying 70,000 thousand barrels a day to fill the strategic petroleum reserve.

Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts said, "It should release oil onto the world market as a weapon to end escalating prices.

At a separate news conference democrats threatened to hold up arms sales to Saudi Arabia if the Bush Administration doesn't convince the world's largest oil exporter to boost production.

Democratic Congressman Charles Schumer of New York said "It seems the big oil producers like Saudi, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are willing to turn a blind eye to supply demands and leave Americans with skyrocketing prices at the pump."
The White House says the nation's emergency reserve needs to maintain a meaningful supply and says pressuring Saudi Arabia is not the only answer.

"We have asked them to increase production but we are not going to do so in a way that waves a magic wand and immediately reduces gas prices," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

While lawmakers debate the issue gas prices continue to soar.

AAA shows the average price for a gallon of regular hit $3.56.

In Cleveland, Ohio, one gas station owner is refusing to buy more gas until prices come down.

Tony Abouhashaem said, "There's no gas I'm going on strike against these companies."

Retailers, drivers and lawmakers, all looking for ways to offset the pain at the pump.
Currently, OPEC produces around 32 million barrels a day.

This week, OPEC leaders announced they would boost production capacity by five million barrels by the year 2012.