Friday, March 11, 2011

Obama Evasive on Strategic Petroleum Reserve Release

In 1973, President Nixon signed the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act. The goal: free the U.S. of all oil imports by 1980. Here is the reason for such action: The Arab oil-producing states impose an embargo against nations supporting Israel in the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, also known as the October War or Yom Kippur War.

The effect upon petroleum-consuming countries was immediate, profound and long-lasting. The oil embargo, and the cut in production that accompanied it, doubled the price of crude and reduced overall supply. That forced gas prices to skyrocket at the pump and led to rationing and the imposition of price controls in the United States and Western Europe. Long gas station lines and frustrated motorists became iconic images of the early 1970s.

Energy independence. A worthy goal, right?

Friday President Obama held a press conference and was asked about releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. As to be predicted, he said he could do so, if he decided to do so, in a matter of days, not in a matter of weeks. This was to be predicted because this administration has no intention of forming a national energy policy that would utilize our nation's abundance of crude oil and natural gas.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve's mission is described as this:
If hurricanes or other unexpected physical conditions disrupt either crude oil imports or domestic production, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is ready to make replacement oil available to the extent approved by the President and/or the Secretary of Energy.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was formed to combat a shut down in supply due to natural disasters - like hurricanes - to keep our energy needs met. The rise in the price of gas at the pump has encouraged some Democrats to call on President Obama to release some of the crude oil stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This is reactionary and unnecessary. The rise in price at the pump is not due to a shortage in supply. The rise in price is due to uncertainty brought on by the unrest in the middle east. This is not the time to release our reserves. Plus, don't forget that this President and his administration do not believe in supporting domestic offshore oil and gas drilling. The reserves released would have to be replaced.

The reserves are located along the Gulf coast so it is feasible that supplies could be used if oil refineries, also located along the Gulf coast, were interrupted due to natural disasters.

Congress authorized the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in the Energy Policy and
Conservation Act (EPCA, P.L. 94-163) to help prevent a repetition of the economic
dislocation caused by the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo. The program is managed by the
Department of Energy (DOE). Physically, the SPR comprises five underground storage
facilities, hollowed out from naturally occurring salt domes in Texas and Louisiana. The SPR, with a capacity of 727 million barrels, currently holds roughly 692 million barrels.

Obama would not, when asked by a reporter during his press conference Friday, specify the criteria he is considering as he makes a decision to release crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He does not inspire confidence in his ability to make sound energy policy and has little respect as a leader within the gas and oil industry. He is a man fond of reminding an audience of reporters that he is the President of the United States yet unable to articulate a true message of competence.

A decade ago, as former President George W. Bush and his administration put forth energy exploration and production strategy before the Congress, he was dismissed as beholden to the industry and an enemy of the environment. It was nonsense then and it shows the folly of that logic now. We were told by naysayers it would be a decade before we would reap the rewards of expanded drilling and production. Well, a decade went by and look where we are now. It was completely predictable.

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