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Under pressure, Bush stops adding to US petroleum reserve

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"Congress is desperate; they know people are mad," says Phil Flynn of Alaron Trading in Chicago.

On Friday, the Department of Energy announced it would not sign new contracts to continue filling the SPR.

Some energy analysts think the move can be viewed as a symbolic gesture to align federal policy with the sacrifices that ordinary Americans are making. "From the perspective of the American consumer, who is struggling week after week to fill the gas tank, it is bothersome to be competing for the same resources," says Geoff Sundstrom of AAA in Heathrow, Fla. "When we are telling people to remove the golf clubs from the back of the SUV, then we all need to get on board or these prices will never come down."

Yet other energy analysts questioned whether the government should keep adding to the SPR with prices soaring. "It seems reasonable to halt adding oil when prices are so high," says Tim Considine, who has done a study on the SPR and is a professor at Penn State University. "But I don't think the price of oil is going to drop. It's too small an amount to really matter."

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