Morning Bell: Don’t Tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Mike Brownfield /

As gas prices hit $4 per gallon, White House spokesman Jay Carney assured Americans on Monday that the administration is well aware of the toll high fuel costs are taking on American families. So what’s President Obama’s solution to America’s pain? According to White House chief of staff Bill Daley, the administration may tap into the nation’s oil safety net – the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) – in order to bring down the cost of fuel. Big mistake. While most folks want to pay less at the pump, dipping into our oil reserves is a short-sighted political ploy that papers-over a much bigger, long-term problem: the Obama administration’s continuing refusal to grant America access to its domestic oil resources.

The United States’ oil reserves were created after the 1973 Arab oil embargo to be used in cases of national crisis where there’s a significant shortage of oil — today it holds about 700 million barrels of petroleum. Presidents have used it sparingly — during the 1991 Gulf War and natural disasters such as Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, for example. Yet, six Democratic senators called for the sale of the reserve oil to go toward advancing electric cars and reducing the deficit. The reserves are not intended to spur sales of electric cars (which also require gasoline). (more…)