* Says Obama "very concerned" about gas price
* Tapping SPR one option on the table
March 8 U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu
repeated the Obama administration's position that releasing
crude oil from U.S. reserves in an effort to bring down rising
gas prices is still an "option on the table."
Chu, speaking on Thursday after a House of Representatives
hearing, said President Barack Obama, although concerned about
rising oil prices had set no time frame for a decision on
whether to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
"We're looking at all the possibilities and trying to bring
relief to American families," Chu said.
Rapidly rising gasoline costs have become a hot political
topic in recent weeks as U.S. prices jumped nearly 30 cents in
the past month to an average of $3.77 a gallon, according to the
American Automobile Association.
A number of lawmakers in the House panel criticized the
Obama administration for rejecting the proposed Canada-to-Texas
Keystone XL pipeline, which they said could have helped moderate
prices over the long-term. The Senate was set to vote on
Thursday on a pair of Keystone-related proposals.
The recent price spike in gasoline has been blamed in part
on Iran and Washington-led sanctions. Chu said it was difficult
to determine how much effect Iran has had on U.S. prices but
that it does seem to be contributing to the rise.
"How much effect is very hard to say, but they seem to have
an effect and, again, this is why options are on the table," Chu
The U.S. last released oil from its strategic reserves in
the summer of 2011 as violence in Libya disrupted oil
transportation. Obama administration officials have said they
are considering another release to prevent high prices from
disrupting the economic recovery.
(Reporting By Emily Stephenson)