Blumenthal says Venezuelan oil program is legal

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 said Monday that he sees no legal problems with a plan to bring discounted Venezuelan heating oil to low-income Connecticut residents.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who asked Blumenthal to review the legality of the plan earlier this month, said last week that the controversial nature of accepting oil from Venezuelan-owned Citgo Petroleum Corp. could be problematic or even “extremely distasteful.”

In a statement issued Monday, Blumenthal said that there was reason to be cautious in accepting oil from Venezuela, but said the plan is not subject to state review because the oil will be provided through private, non-profit organizations.

“As a matter of law, there is no reason to decline or disapprove this heating oil assistance program,” Blumenthal said. “This heating oil assistance fills an unfortunate, profoundly important need for our citizens – and is consistent with our laws.”

Rell said in a statement issued Monday that she would not intervene in the discounted oil program and applauded New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. for his work in bringing the program to Connecticut.

DeStefano, who is running against Rell in this year’s gubernatorial elections, has spearheaded negotiations between Citgo and energy providers in Connecticut. Six eastern states have already signed contracts with Citgo for the program announced by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez late last year.

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