Top Dem: Tap oil reserves?
May 1st, 2011
10:12 AM ET
3 years ago

Top Dem: Tap oil reserves?

Washington (CNN) – Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen proposed the United States tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help curb escalating gas prices.

“I would say with respect to price, we’ve seen a supply disruption as a result of Libya, which has helped feed a speculative bubble and the only way to address that in the very short-term is to consider releasing some of the oil from the strategic petroleum reserve,” Van Hollen said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”


The Maryland representative and ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee said releasing some of the reserve’s oil, an emergency fuel source maintained by the United States Department of Energy, would “pop that bubble” and “get a good price for the American tax payer too.”

The reserve houses 726.6 million barrels, enough oil to subsidize the Untied States for 75 days at current levels, according to the most recent numbers from the Department of Energy.

In March, President Obama said he was prepared to tap the reserve, but has yet to pursue the option. According to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the current national average for regular gas is $3.943 a gallon, compared with $3.619 a month ago and $2.885 last year.

But instead of using the reserve, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said the United States should “be exploring for energy offshore, on federal land and in Alaska.”

The reserve is “there for specific emergencies and this isn’t it,” Barrasso said Sunday on “State of the Union.”

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Dinosaur BBQ

    Saudi Arabia has vowed to make up the difference
    so this is bull !!
    I am a Democrat, this tool is lying.
    The reserve is for emergencies
    this is not an emergency.

    May 1, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  2. michael MN

    Please ! There is no shortage and quit trying to score political points – that oil is for a national emergency and NOT a pool of sensless tactics to get votes

    May 1, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  3. Tanja

    B.S.....The oil companies will sell us oil if we bribe them with $4billion or not. I say spend the $4billion to pay down our debt.

    May 1, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  4. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    NO!!!! Car Pool, public transportation, quit buying into what big oil is selling

    May 1, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. the real ib

    Obama could controll the gas prices easy by just getting laws passed on the speculators that are driving the price up more than anything. Oh wait he promised to do that if he was elected didn't he? Bush didn't do it since he was an oil man. Obama hasn't done it since it fits in with his "green agenda" which he doesn't even go along with since he feels like he must leave the largest carbon footprint in the world right now.

    May 1, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. vic , nashville ,tn

    High gas price plus bad weather (some time we have to drive more rods closed due tree fallen, power out signal lights don’t work drive 10 mph)

    Oil Companies high profit plus tax subsidies

    Had enough with our politicians

    May 1, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. BILL, WI

    More fuzzy math from a politician. Those figures he is quoting would add up if you were releasing all of the oil in SPR just for gasoline for cars. If you include the usage for industry and electric generation, those figures would fall short by about 40 days. The sector most important to our existence during a disruption is ignored by Van Hollen.

    May 1, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. Teena

    Until we see the Hummers, 8 passenger cars, and all the other gas hogs sitting in peoples driveways and NOT on the road then I will believe we have an oil shortage leading to higher gas prices. This is not an emergency. Rather it is the oil companies' using the ongoing crises in north Africa to raise gasoline prices and increase profits. The reserves are there for a true emergency and high gasoline prices is NOT and emergency. Strip the oil companies of their subsidies and pay down the national debt with that money or better yet give the money to the middle class as a rebate!

    May 1, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. SA in OO

    Sen. John Barrasso is right on one count. This is not an emergency. There is no shortage of oil. The oil companies are simply profiting on the fear created by political upheaval in the middle east and north africa. The rise in prices at the pump are not being driven by commensurate rises in the price of crude oil. They are being driven by the greed in the oil industry, who in that great american tradition has yet to see a tragedy they couldn't find a way to exploit for financial gain.

    And why exactly are we subsidizing these people who have no limit to the creative ways they can find to make record profits off the backs of people who work for a living.

    May 1, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. KM

    At exactly what price does gas have to go before we characterize it as an emergency? Such fuel prices are putting tremendous pressure on consumers, epecially those who live on fixed incomes. The concept of leadership demands that leaders take decisive action in such situations to mitigate damage both to the economy and our national security. Everyone is talking about the price of healthcare and food prices. Fuel will have no less of an impact and the effects will be felt with as much if not more immediacy then other factors. The lack of action on this matter is appalling and unacceptable.

    May 1, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. steven harnack

    Libya contributes 2% of the world oil supply. What is causing high prices is the convoluted way that prices are set and speculators who may or may not have a hand in creating crisis to drive up prices. Remove them from the equation and prices would stabilize.

    May 1, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. ben

    Doing something like tapping our oil reserves is very counterintuitive. It will lead to increased demand for gasoline, which will only drive the price up further. And as it's already been stated, high gas prices are not an emergency. OPEC boycotts are an emergency.

    May 1, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. MAC

    The Oil Reserve is for when the Middle East actually blowsup and oil stops, not to cut prices. Gas prices at the pump has lots of factors including devalue of the dollar, refinary issues, change to multiple summer blends, relying on foriegn supply, and many other factors. To help reduce the deficit we should drop all subsudies including oil companies and green energy, farming, GE, drug companies, all of them. The deficit is 7.5 trillion dollars over the next 10 years if Obama has his way, so we need to cut 7.5 trillion dollars just to still have our current deficit.

    May 1, 2011 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. Aaron

    What's with the WY idiot? We need a break on gas prices now! Not whenever he gets his croonies lined up to drill on federal lands, which would not reduce the price anyway. It's a long shot that breaking oil out of the strategic reserve will reduce prices since there is not a shortage of oil, just an abundance of greed from the oil companies aligned with their paid for legislators in DC.

    May 1, 2011 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. w l jones

    If the Feb. release the reserve oil then they should sell gas at the pump and pay off our dept all at the same time. Bless.

    May 1, 2011 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  16. D in OR

    If Bush could get points for it why not Obama? Bush tripled the debt to GDP ration and now Republicans are beginning to admit that in tough times they don't want any social programs or labor involvement. Lavish pensions and compensation are somehow OK. It is becomming extremely difficult to be moderate.

    May 1, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. Ron Willard

    When the Republicans start there diatribe about drill, baby, drill I wish someone would have the common sense to ask them how their approach is going to solve the foreign oil import problem. We know that most of the oil companies are foreign owned. But it doesn't really matter. The oil all of the companies produce on and off American shores does not go just to meet American needs it is transported all around the world. Unless the Republicans can get the oil companies to agree that every bit of oil produced from American resources goes for American consumption how will more drilling help reduce our need for foreign oil. It is all a bunch of hogwash to make more money for the oil companies. To start with, most foreign oil we import comes from Canada and that will not change no matter how much drilling goes on. Most of the oil companies in Canada are American owned. Secondly we export more oil than we import from the mid-east. Please CNN will somebody in your group get knowledgeable on this subject and then ask the questions.

    May 1, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  18. Larry L

    We will never escape from the addiction to oil if we keep trying to find magical solutions to the problem. Oil companies spend huge bucks buying politicians so we can continue to give the companies enormous profits, even in times of economic crisis. Oil is a diminishing commodity and the price, both in dollars and environmental destruction, will only continue to rise. Those failing to make the radical shift to alternative energy sources will be left in the dust of more visionary and progressive nations. Fossil fuels are unavoidable bridge to a future of clean and renewable sources of energy. The high prices we see at the pump today could be the last ransom payments we'll pay to oil barons and their Congressional puppets.

    May 1, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  19. barbara

    How about we not be dependent on ANY foreign oil and really ramp up alternative, renewable energy...duh!!

    May 1, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Why is t wrong to have thinkgs like gas, oil, water, and food profits regulated? I'm not saying don;t make money or control them by goverment ( I guess i am) but 11 Billion dollars in a quarter? I know it came from speculators buying futures, not form actual oil prices but enough of people sitting home and making money for making a phone call to a broker on the backs of everyone but the rich. Tax and stock trading at the same level as gambling- that's what it is. But in this case it's with our lives!

    May 1, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. GI Joe

    To the real ib

    Obama could controll the gas prices easy by just getting laws passed
    ------------
    I seem to recollect Turtle Face and the Weeper standing for TWO PLUS years yelling HELL NO to everything that was proposed> "Just getting laws passed" makes you sound like you're from MS or WV. HE IS NOT A DICTATOR.

    May 1, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. Bob in Pa

    Of course, another plan that doesn't resolve a single thing. There is only one solution here, we become more dependant on ourselves.

    May 1, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. Howard

    Tap the oil reserves ?
    How about drilling for more oil ???
    No, instead, if we're hungry, let's eat the goose that lays the golden eggs,
    or how about if we eat our seed crop.
    The REALITY is, that until alternate energy actually becomes a real alternative,
    this country runs on oil ... and it will for many more years.
    Wake up and smell the coffee !!!

    May 1, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Tap the reserves? That wont do a damned thing to lower the price of oil globally. That is the problem in a nutshell. The only people in the USA that have any effect on oil prices are the speculators that are reaping in huge profits at a 15% tax rate.Change the damned tax code to make it harder for these ash*les to make billions while the rest of starve.

    May 1, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Ancient Texan

    I don't work for an oil company, nor do I own oil company stock, but to blame the oil companies for the price is totally wrong. They make less than 6% profit on an annual basis and pay billions in taxes. The expense of locating and drilling for oil at 12,000 foot depths or much farther in off shore sites is a extremely risky and expensive venture. Contrast their profit margin with computer related profits of up to 52% and understand that the billions in profit is from sheer volume not from gouging.

    May 1, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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