(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.
UPDATE: 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.”