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. indy

    There might be some short term relief from tapping the strategic reserve, but it's by no means a long term solution. While alternative energy strategies are the way to go, I think we'll always have some dependence on oil. Offshore drilling would at least allow us to use our own oil and reduce the dependence on the Middle East. Estimates say we wouldn't see any oil from it from 7-12 years, but it seems like a worthy investment. Whoever wins the election needs a to present a vision and actionable plan for short and longterm energy solutions.

    common sense 08

    August 4, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  2. james

    All this talk of flip-flopping is ridiculous and always has been!
    We have seen the results of "sticking to our guns" in the face of new information, and I hope we have learned that with new information should come new ideas.

    Also, drilling for new oil in the ocean will not bring new oil for a decade therefore have no affect on oil prices. Oil companies have had years to tap oil in the ocean where they already have contracts to do this, and have instead just worked on buying back stock.

    Tapping the reserves however is just releasing oil that is already drilled, so could instantly flood the market.

    We really need to move on from oil to something we can really produce here in unending supplies. As long as there is sun and wind, we could have endless power here in the US, and tell the oil companies and mid-east dictators where to put their oil.

    August 4, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. Flexible

    Being flexible is not flip flop, it is essential in this age. Markets change,
    times change. Be flexible, flexible, flexible

    August 4, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. J, Philly PA

    Hey, in a week's time gas prices have dropped from $4.09 to $3.83 in my neighborhood. No, it's not nearly good enough, but it is coming down! This idea seems a bit premature to me.

    August 4, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Henry n New York

    Former President Clinton did the same and it worked. Word from the middle east is that even upon increasing the supply demand has not risen and prices have continued to grow. That implies a market speculator influence; this move would immediately create an abundance in the market and make prices plummet. It is also a move that Bush would never suggest and McCain would not endorse because both are in the pockets of big oil.

    August 4, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. james

    I don't think Schwarzenegger would work on the ticket, as he's not a natural born US citizen. Since he could be president, I don't think the constitution would allow that.

    August 4, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  7. ATLian

    Seems like the whole country is flipflopping to me. Weren't the majority of Americans opposed to off shore drilling before?

    August 4, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Pat F

    Oh No! What will the Obamatons do when Barack adopts every one of John McCain's ideas? Will that make Obama the senile old man?

    The "caring party", the Democrats, BASHING McCain because of his age! I never thought I'd see the day. Gross.

    August 4, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. Dj

    Why can't you anti-Obama folks celebrate when he is willing to come to your side on an issue for everyone's benefit? Why do you seek to find fault in everything? I'll tell you why!

    Because you really don't stand for anything except being HATEFUL, NEGATIVE, PESSIMISTIC. I feel sorry for all of you. May God have mercy on your ignorant selves.

    August 4, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. sonny c.

    Policy shifting is a sign of weakness. We need men of courage & conviction: George W. Bush & Dick Cheney. They had the courage to stay out of Vietnam & the conviction to take deferments or get Poppy's friends to Accomplish the Mission,

    August 4, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. Matt, Minneapolis, MN

    Pretty sure that They're only supposed to be tapped in case of a national emergency. Once we tap them, what happens if Israel goes to war with Iran, and we actually need them. Or what if there's a coup in Nigeria. What if we do something that upsets the delacate Chavez.? The fact is that we need this reserve full, and we need to keep it nonpolitical. The reserve is not there to bail out people who are having trouble paying for gas, espcially when the price is starting to fall.

    BTW $200 billion in relief being funded by a windfall profits tax is laughable. The big oil companies didn't make that much in 2007, so how do you expect to tax their profits even when taking it all won't fund your idea.

    How about Barrak adresses the fact that he's opposed to the tax credit for wind and solar energy. How about he adresses the fact that he's against nuclear & Coal leaving us with no new way to produce the increased electricity that we need. How about he address the fact that he won't place incentives out there for electric cars, and instead only wants $200 billion in research(originally to be funded by the windfall profits tax)? His plans are as weak as his resume is. Give me a break from this hypocrite already.

    Change without substance is Status Quo, No to O.

    August 4, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. MMN-Milwaukee WI


    Get your facts straight. Clinton was for "gas tax holiday" and McCain is for “offshore drilling” and Exxon/Mobil makes near $12 billion profit in one quarter. Out of those 2 plans, please take your ZERO dollar cut and save on energy cost.

    August 4, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    If you really want to lower oil prices fast that will work. I personally think high gas prices are a good thing. They make people drive less and think serously about alternatives.

    Off shore drilling in the US will never lower gas prices even in 10 to 15 years. We have only 3% of total world reserves, even if we dumped it all in the market at once it would have no effect. These are the government estimates not some environmental group ranting. I read a poll where 50% of Americans think that off shore drilling will lower gas prices within a year. Where do these people come from and who is feeding them all this false infomation? Will they be mad when the oil companies made 24 bilion profit after they start drilling and gas is still around $4 a gallon.

    August 4, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  14. Griff

    Flip and Flop! The two Obama's. Which is the Clone and which is the Clown???

    August 4, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |

    Obama is playing politics with an important issue. He could care less about solutions. He's playing politics to win an election. Fortunately, it won't work.

    Ironically, Darragh Murphy is no better than Barack Obama.

    The question is: Are Pumas not better than Obamabots, are they mindless minions of Darragh Murphy in the same exact way that they think Obamabots are the mindless minions of the Obamessiah?

    After all they've done, are Pumas really nothing but Pumabots who want to believe that Darragh Murphy is the Second Coming?

    I don't believe it...

    You decide.

    August 4, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. dEMOBRAT

    What happen to all the LOVE for Obama that useed to clog this blog-ha!

    Bring back Hillary- this guy needs to go back to school!

    August 4, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Jon

    Another pathetic gimmick by another pathetic politican. How can any leader in there right mind use a reserve that by definition is for the most absolute emergencies ONLY, just to lower gas prices for consumers by a nickel a gallon. If any person votes for this flip flopping moron they should just move to France or Germany and live there socialistic lifestyle away from our country. Another thing this idiot now wants to seat all the delegates. Why? I know, it is because he is losing so much ground that he is getting desperate. Two months ago he said they broke the rule and do not deserve to be fully seated. Another Flip Flop. Oh wait what about off shore drilling? More than 60% of the country wants the use our own resources so now he supports off shore drilling. That makes three flip flops in just the past week. I could go on and on but you all see my point. DON'T VOTE FOR OBAMA, he will ruin America and that is a FACT!!!!!!!!!!

    August 4, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. CB FOR OB

    PUMA 4 HILL August 4th, 2008 10:14 am ET

    Oh, a POLICY SHIFT – not another FLIP-FLOP? When McCain 'shifts' he's a flip flopper by CNN's definition, but when Obama 'shifts' it's a political shift. CNN, call it what it is – a convenient change, a flip flop, to benefit him in the polls.

    Down with Obama and the Media!!! WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. THIS WAS FIXED BEGINNING IN 2004 AND THE PROOF IS ALL OVER THE INTERNET. I can't really blame Obama, he's having the ride of his lifetime all at our expense.

    PUMA – hold strong and teach the DNC a lesson. No one dictates who we vote for. The Clintons were railroaded because everyone is scared of their power and their strength to do good.




    August 4, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. Dan , TX

    Obama is correct. If we want to bring down gas prices tomorrow, this is the way to do it. Waiting for McCain to agree.....

    August 4, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. Henry n New York

    From reading several of the post regarding this topic it would seem that people want a president that won't adjust to the circumstances. How narrow minded that approach has proven to be. Bush refuses to move on any idea, concept or plan that he has made up his mind about. For example, deregulation of the futures market and looked what happened. It has contributed to nation wide foreclosures and high oil prices; yet he won't institute any regulation controls. So I guess I'm amused and bemused at the comments in opposition of a shift or adjustment in a plan or course of action. Its time to recognize that the variables are exactly that, variables that require adjustment of other variables in order to reach the same end goal. Besides the reserve is over 97% full releasing just 10% would not endanger the reserves soundness.

    August 4, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. seah ohio

    We can not afford to tap into the reserve for use.

    At this point in History, with Iran threatening us. It would be suicide to tap our reserves now.

    It would be foolish and Stupid to Set our self up for Extreme Problems that could arise fast.

    Shows Obama does not look at the Big Picture of things. He wants to appease the American people for votes.

    When Bill Clinton tapped the reserves we were not at war and not being Threatened by a bigger war at the time.

    Obama is back on Mr Hollywood, wanting everyone to like him to win the Oscar. He needs to grow up.

    August 4, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. Flippy McFlopperson

    Is it possible for him to change stances more?
    This guy can't make his mind up, and you people want him to lead our country?
    He should select a coin for his VP, so he can flip it, to make decisions for him.

    If anyone believes this guy... Seek some help.

    August 4, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Chris C for McCain

    Another Flip Flop!
    We have enjoyed our coastlines long enough people. I think McCain's view on America and the economy are correct. It is all just in your minds. I know I have already made a small fortune in the market with oil and energy stocks and I advise you all to do the same. When we are drilling in Florida and California I will invest more and make even more! Obama is just an Empty suit who will mess it all up. And lastly those Europeans don't know anything.
    McCain/Lieberman in 08!

    August 4, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. Dan , TX

    Interesting how everyone seems to think that dogma is more important than fixing problems. Thank God you people aren't real voters.

    PS. Obama's tax plan will lower your taxes more than McCain's plan. That's a fact. Look it up. AND Obama's plan leads to a lower federal deficit than McCain's plan. Another fact. Google it.

    August 4, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Tel It Like It Is

    Open up strategic reserve for distribution so that as it also replenished the demand increases and so the price.


    August 4, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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