August 4th, 2008
09:06 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama calls for tapping of strategic petroleum reserves

Obama will call for SPR release Monday, say aides.

Obama will call for SPR release Monday, say aides.

(CNN) - In an apparent policy shift, Barack Obama will call for the tapping of the strategic petroleum reserves Monday, backing a position taken by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders.

"What he will be calling for in his speech today is swapping out the light crude with the heavy crude, the heavy crude would replaced in the reserve at a later date so that we can get oil into the market. In the past when we’ve done this we’ve seen its demonstrated ability to help bring costs down and obviously consumers are suffering today. So he’ll be calling for that swap,” said the campaign’s energy policy director, Heather Zichal, in a conference call with reporters.

“Sen. Obama has looked at this issue, he recognizes that Americans are suffering, that we have a unique situation with rising gas prices and this is one occasion where we need to look at this strategically and he made the decision that we need to tap the strategic petroleum reserves.”

Obama last month said he did not think the country should use the strategic oil reserves "at this point."

"I have said and in fact supported a congressional resolution that said we should suspend putting more oil into the strategic oil reserve but the strategic oil reserve I think has to be reserved for a genuine emergency," he said on July 7.

The McCain campaign said Obama's move was strictly political, not sound policy. “Tapping the strategic oil reserve is not a substitute for a real plan to increase supply through additional drilling and nuclear power. The strategic oil reserve exists for America's national security strategy - not Barack Obama’s election strategy," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.

"The last release of oil from the strategic reserve came in response to Hurricane Katrina, but the only crisis that has developed since Barack Obama last rejected this idea 28 days ago is a slide in his poll numbers.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. webster208

    When Obama does it, it is "policy shift". When his opponents do it, it is "flip-flop". This guy really thinks he is above everyone, and the rules do not apply to him. The strategic petroleum reserves are there for a reason, in the same way that you have an emergency fund in the bank. When Hillary proposed a tax holiday, Obama said it was pandering because it would not solve the energy crisis in the long term. He opposes offshore drilling because it would not solve the energy crisis in the short term. How exactly does he want to tackle this problem? – by hanging on to Nancy's skirt and making big and vague speeches about "change"? How can anyone seriously vote for this clown?

    August 4, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  2. Shelley

    Can we stop overusing this ridiculous flip flop term? We all make decisions and we shift as circumstances change. Does anyone want a president or a husband or a wife or a boss who makes a decision and then never listens to anything else. Information and circumstances change by the minute. This is a new millenium people! Those of us who are stuck in the last moment and the last decision always lose.

    August 4, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Emma, San Jose, CA

    Obama is listening to the American people. Many have expressed their support for some off-shore drilling. But that is not his only plan for making energy supplies meet the demand. Those who are doing their homework know this.

    August 4, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. ls

    It use to cost me almost $14 dollars to fill up my tank. Now it costs me a little over $44.00. Thank goodness my car does good on gas; however, that is not the case for many people who are stuck with their gas guzzlers.

    Obama concerns for the American families is honestly felt and he will do a very good job in helping American get back on the right track.

    McCain, on the other hand, will not. It's going to take a lot of strength and hard thinking to change how things are done now and McCain doesn't have any of these two abilities.

    Think people – what do you have to lose?

    August 4, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  5. Alex

    I'm glad to hear this. Obama's energy policy was something I saw original flaws in, and this shows his strengths in the ability to be observant and flexible in a constructive manner. Anyone who throws around "flip flop" is an idiot just looking for unnecessary controversy over a good move!

    August 4, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  6. Crush Rush

    Nationalize Big Oil and Gas.

    August 4, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  7. Ron Miller

    What do we do when we empty them? Do we pay $5 a gallon in refilling them to make the Saudis and Irainians richer? What if.. we end up in a war with Iran and can not get oil? Keep it where it is at.

    August 4, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  8. Jay D

    I thought that all we had to do was inflate our tires, get a tune-up and suck our tailpipes while we wait for scientists to develop technologies that don't exist yet.

    August 4, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  9. norml

    it's an EMERGENCY ,isnt it?why would you people NOT want to do everything we can to bring these prices down.all you can talk about is flip-flops.he said before,"AT THIS POINT"!it's a new point ,now!gop=grand oil party

    August 4, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. Crush Rush

    Dittoheads must be rounded up.

    August 4, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. Neal, Houston

    I am a BO supporter but this is a mistake. It's easy to look back at past events and make declarations such as "In the past when we’ve done this we’ve seen its demonstrated ability to help bring costs down..." but the SPR has been set up for one reason and one reason only – to mitigate the effects on our society of a major supply disruption. To use the reserve in order to reduce prices (I question the actual price effect, too) may turn out to be a costly mistake. It's possible that there will be no major supply disruption going forward but under this plan, if there were, the ability of the government to release crude to the market would be hindered due to the problems in physical delivery (higher viscosity, etc) and the ability of many refineries to deal with a sudden influx of heavier crude.

    August 4, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. Rhoda

    Wasn't it Obama and the Dems who criticized the Repugs for wanting to use the Strategic Reserve? This is just a nonsensical gimmick by McObama. Anything to avoid the drill. McObama, this is NOT a dentist's drill. Would you please take a position and stick to it?

    Nader '08, Hillary '12

    August 4, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. demwit

    And what will Obama do when our strategic reserves are gone and Iran closes the Hormuz Straights? Strike a rock, like Moses??

    August 4, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. demwit


    August 4, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. Texun

    It's too bad that so many posters are playing the childish flip-flop game! Pay some attention to the merits of the issue. In this case, though I'm for Obama, I don't think that opening the reserve is a good idea: it should be saved for short-term emergencies; using it will not lower the price of gasoline at the pump significantly. He needs better advice on energy! The only reason to ban drilling off Florida is to play into Florida politics; it's not part of a sane energy policy. I think that we should drill in the wildlife preserve in Alaska, with appropriate safeguards. He gets this one right, however: doing so won't lower the price of gasoline either.

    August 4, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. Russell

    Obama has hope, hope that everyone is dumb enough to think he has long term plans to solve the energy and pricing Crises.

    This is not a solution, it's a blindfold. What is it with Democrats not wanting to solve the problem but just heal a few wounds caused by the real issue... We need a solution for the next 20 years not the next 20 weeks.

    Opening up more drilling in the US will drop prices RIGHT NOW by raising confidence in where we are going. Our biggest enemy right now is the futures and comondities markets where speculators are killing us....

    wake up people, I don't care who suggests this fix, it's not a fix, it's not even a band-aid.

    August 4, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. MMN-Milwaukee WI

    Here is the simplest of my analogies.
    It’s like me finding a person with no food and they don’t even know where to find their next meal, and have the nerve to offer that person an onion so they can flavor their next meal if they get one. The only thing the onion will do is run tears down the chicks of the poor hungry person when they peeling and chop it in anticipation to use on food they don’t have. That is what offshore drilling will do for you and me right now. Obama is offering tax relief so people can keep up with the costs while we figure out long term solutions, national strategic reserves is another short term solution and yet the rich and powerful are busy again pandering to a slew of ignorant people who wouldn’t know the truth if it smacked them in the face.

    People are energized and angry over the war, phone tapping, tortured prisoners and the poor response to Hurricane Katrina, GM losing $15 billion while Exxon/Mobil makes near $12 billion profit in one quarter that is an outrage.

    McCain is spiting into the wind now, come November it will blow back on his face. Can McCain talk substance for one whole day without obsessing and mention of Obama?

    August 4, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Bob (NC)

    Another Flip-Flop for Obama.

    Against Clinton he said giving money to Americans was a "political trick" and now he's offering $1000 to buy people's votes?

    Obama = just another politician.

    McCain or Abstain

    August 4, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  19. Mike, TX

    Yea. That's a long term solution.


    August 4, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  20. Never Again CNN

    I read a comment that Kerry and Gore found out that American voters are smarter than the politicians give them credit for...HA!. That's why they elected Bush twice??? Because it's supposed to be an example of how smart Americans are. No wonder the real technological advancements (barring military ones) happen in Asia. If things keep following this track, we'll soon see a major world shift in power thanks to money grubbing, power hungry politicians who want to "bomb bomb .... iran". Increase offshore drilling to help with gas prices..if Americans believe that, then I can understand why Bush was in office for 2 terms. Not only was there abuse of power and an undeserved war, but now the rest of the world see's America's stock dropping...and thinds are going to stay this way under McCain, a grumpy old man who can't use the internet to get his facts straight.

    August 4, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. CM

    Those people who talk about flip flops are the same ones who believed the Rove propaganda machine 4 years ago and voted us into this mess.

    If the man can re-evaluate the situation and shift his policy to suit and it is for the betterment of the population why can't you see that? All you're looking at is that he changed his mind?

    Bush/McCain likes to stay the course regardless of the outcome. Why don't you ask the GOP why we're not looking for WMDs and now we're 'liberating the Iraqui people'?

    August 4, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  22. Happy Birthday Barack


    Have a wonderful day, and I'll see you in November when you become the President Elect.


    August 4, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  23. Dan in Philly

    The same Democrats that berate Bush for never budging on an issue now want to call a reasoned change in position a 'flip flop'. Gad I hate that word. Get a new one you whiners. He previous position was that it was not right at the time. Times have changed and Obama has the capacity to rethink and change as well. A refreshing difference, if you ask me.

    And the PUMA people need to just give it a rest. You want to hand this country over to the Republicans for another four years just to make your petulant and irrelevant point you will have no one to blame for yourselves when Roe v. Wade is overturned, the Supreme Court is packed with right wingers, and we're bogged down in a quagmire in Iran with another $100 billion spent and 5000 lives lost.

    August 4, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  24. pbj

    what a telling position. caught between a rock - his politically expedient opposition to offshore drilling - and a hard place - the need for offshore drilling to reduce our dependence on foreign oil - his solution is to compromise our national security by tapping into the strategic oil reserve. compromise our national security in order to obtain a short term political benefit so he can get elected. similar to his (former) opposition to the surge - rather lose a war than lose an election.

    August 4, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  25. ls

    I hope the headlines don't read "How can 20 million people be that stupid" again. It will be the biggest mistake Americans will do if McCain is elected president. As if Bush wasn't enough.

    August 4, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
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