Number two House Democrat opposes own colleagues on oil reserves
February 27th, 2012
04:04 PM ET
2 years ago

Number two House Democrat opposes own colleagues on oil reserves

Washington (CNN) - The number two House Democrat broke Monday with some of his fellow Democratic colleagues, and said he does not believe releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is appropriate now and it wouldn't help lower gas prices.

Last week three House Democrats - Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, Rep. Ed Markey, D- Mass, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn– wrote a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to release oil from the U.S. stockpile to reduce prices at the pump.

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"Signaling that the United States will continue to employ an aggressive SPR policy in the near term would send a strong signal to oil markets responding to the unrest in the Middle East," the three Democrats wrote.

But House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said he believes the SPR should be used in "emergency times when supply is being disrupted," and added, "there are no lines at the gas tanks anywhere in the country as far as I know."

Hoyer maintained there are other reasons for higher gas prices. "My own view that speculation and fear of what might happen is more a cause than the supply issue."

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created in the 1970s and managed by the U.S. Department of Energy to hold a reserve energy supply after an oil embargo resulted in record prices and gas shortages in many areas.

Last year after prices spiked at the pump, the president directed 30 million barrels of oil to be released from the SPR, citing supply disruptions caused by the conflict in Libya.

Asked what Congress could do to impact price in the short term, the Maryland Democrat admitted that it was "very difficult for us to affect to price individually."

Hoyer maintained that the global market place and demand from countries like China and India makes it difficult to control the price of oil through releasing more oil onto the market from the U.S. reserve supply.

But he conceded that the higher gas prices go the more pressure there will be for the president to tap the reserve.

Referring to the SPR, Hoyer said, "It was not set up to manage prices, that's not to say it hasn't been used in the past when prices came up because it has, and it may well be used for that in the future. I'm one of the skeptics as to whether it has a very great impact on prices."

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Filed under: Democrats • Energy • House • Steny Hoyer
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Jack

    I agree this is not the time. There will be plently of time down the road to release the reserve. This is still early in the game and there are probably other options we should try first. We could always release the reserves in the early fall when gas prices tend to go down anyway and give an extra boost to the economy. Good timing for the election.

    February 27, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. Aaron

    These "leaders" appear to be very uninformed. The US has so much gas that it is exporting it to other countries. Supply is obviously not the reason for increased gas prices. It's the same old story....the greed of oil companies and the elected officials that they own.

    February 27, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. king

    lesson, we america is pumping more oil than ever, hey they can open some of these oil reserve to stablelize oil prices and replenish them when most of these newly oil well are up and functioning. we cannot afford to destablelize our recovery at this moment. weve got to do every thing to keep it trugging along.

    February 27, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Steny, Steny, Steny.... It's all about getting Obama re-elected with a little more smoke and mirrors to make it look like he's doing something. Get with the program and stop acting logically. Gor God sakes, you're a DEMOCRAT! Keep this up and they'll start calling you a DINO!

    February 27, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. Enough is Enough

    Its really just a strategic re-election move by Obama, since his policies are a contributing factor in high oil prices. Have you no shame Mr. President.

    February 27, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    Ah truth, you know all about staying with the program, since your lack of intellectual oxygen is so obvious: how can you listen to, much less watch FOX with your head shoved up your rear orifice? It would account for the dementia and the obviously impaired view of the world you have.

    February 27, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  7. Four and The Door

    Steny Hoyer is making very good sense here. This is not a supply problem. Releasing strategic oil reserves would be at best a political move to try and make it look like the Administration was doing something about it. Knowing Obama I expect this is exactly what he will do. I wonder if he will also make a prime time televised speech to go along with it.

    February 27, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. jack johnson

    So we release the oil, then a conflect with Iran does happen WHAT THEN? This is called a reserve for a reason (not an election tool)!!!!!!

    February 27, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. al in memphis

    I wonder what the price of gas would be if America did not need any oil for about 6 months. That will get the price back down below $2 real quick. The next super power will be the country that can run it economy the way it wants with the least amount of crude oil.

    February 27, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Four and The Door - I wonder if he will also make a prime time televised speech to go along with it.
    =======================================================================
    He NEVER misses an opportunity to get on TV! COUNT ON IT!!

    February 27, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    Abolutely, Four, I agree with you. As far as the prime time speech is concerned, that's his prerogative as president and its the prerogative of the networds to decide if its worth carrying. Don't be suprised if they don't carry such a speech.

    February 27, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    How's the view, truth? Getting enough air?

    February 27, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Name

    I'm with Mr.Hoyer on this one.Gas production up,consumption down,there is plenty in industry reserves.The problem is the deregulation of the stock speculators done while oil men Bush and Cheneys were in office in 2000.That let the nuts take over the asylum without rules to rail them..From Clintons time in office to Bushs first year,gas almost doubled,fact,from $1.87 to well over $3.50 in no time at all.Bushs croonies kept spreading lies almost daily to cover the up surge in prices.Bush was approached by the Arabs and was given the chance to build new refineries,all paid by the OPEC consortium,but he turned them down because of his ego for power.Bush in his job to defuse the heat for what he done,went to the Arabs asking to lower prices on the barrel to no avail.This again started with the lame so called Texan named Bush,who again almost brought the country down with his stupidity.So again,you want a republican to intercede in foreign matters,I don't think so...So take that Truth,chew on that a little while....

    February 27, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Free TV time during a campaign??? Obama is there like flies on well, you know what....

    Obama needs to appear and humble himself before the American people and admit he was wrong about denyin gthe pipeline and wrong to cut Gulf oil production by 30% and wrong to hold up leases.

    February 27, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  15. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    I can see it now... The Obama Singin' the Gas Tank Blues Special. A hour special featuring all the near bankrupt green companies and the worthless GM Volt and interviews from 100 mentally deranged people that proclaim none of this is Obama's fault.

    February 27, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. Taran

    @Truth, ummmm I think you miscounted. There are over 100, just here on this blog, that proclaim none of this is obama's fault.

    February 27, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  17. The Greedy Old Pigs declared class war on US!

    Gas prices are not rising because of President Obama's policies. They are rising because if increased tensions in the middle east (which the GOBP fuels at every opportunity) and out of control oil speculators (who the GOBP does not want to regulate).

    February 27, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |