The last time there was a drawdown of our oil supplies at the Strategic Petroleum Reserves was 2005, when Hurricane Katrina shut down 95 percent of crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. Yet in 2008 gas prices were above five dollars a gallon in many parts of the country, and the President opted not to open up the spigot simply to manipulate the market price of fuel.
Last week President Obama released 30 million barrels of oil from the reserve with no national debate and with no clear purpose. He believes that price increases due to the conflict in Libya and increased demand for fuel during the summer driving season will be offset by opening up the reserves now. While Libya is an important source of oil, the conflict has not had a significant impact on our gas prices. In fact, prices have been on the decline in recent weeks. What Obama hopes to accomplish by releasing 30 million barrels of oil into a market that consumes 21 million barrels a day is unclear.
If the priority of the administration is to keep gas prices down, it should implement a long term strategy that includes expanding domestic oil production – not for political expediency. Speeding up the permit process for offshore drilling projects, and urging the Senate to pass the domestic energy expansion legislation passed by the House would be a better start. The manipulation of gas prices by tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserves is not the answer to our energy problems.