With election season in full swing and a continually sluggish economy, the last thing President Obama wants is high gas prices as well. But if upcoming negotiations with Iran do not go well, we can expect oil prices to rise and gas prices to shoot up. Therefore, it is little surprise that there has already been talk of tapping the Strategic Petroleum Fund (SPR) this summer. The SPR was created in case there is ever a severe shortage in supply of oil, such as during war. The President has already released oil from the reserves once in June of 2011. Human Events reports:
Never before has a president released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve without having replaced previous withdrawals. But, already carrying a $1.3 trillion deficit, Obama has not been able to replace last year’s drawdown. To withdraw from the reserve two years in a row would be unprecedented; moreover, further reduction of our strategic reserve would increase the risk of a serious shortage in the event of a real emergency.
The SPR was not made available for when there is dissatisfaction with gas prices, and withdrawing for this reason creates a bad precedent and potential supply shortage.. Finding ourselves without enough oil could cause massive economic problems, and national security problems.
Representative Corey Gardner (R-CO) has introduced a bill to help tackle this issue. His bill, H.R. 4480, The Strategic Production Energy Act of 2012, ties releasing oil from the SPR to a proportional amount of leases for drilling oil and gas.
Representative Gardner’s bill is a good way to keep energy exploration on the table and deserves support. However, this shouldn’t become an excuse to use the SPR to manipulate oil prices to score a few electoral points. Expanding energy exploration and production are important long-term solutions for greater energy independence and lower prices and deserve support regardless of elections and political favor.
In addition to the SPR component of the legislation, the bill includes a series of plans that take on the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory impact on fuel prices, increasing domestic energy production, and streamlining the leasing and permitting process for energy exploration on federal lands. Taken together, the package is aimed at decreasing taxpayers' pain at the gas pump and job growth. The House is considering H.R. 4480 today with final votes expected this afternoon.