Political gas wars
March 13th, 2011
02:14 PM ET
11 years ago

Political gas wars

Washington (CNN) – A leading Democrat called for President Obama to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserves to prevent rising gas prices from harming the economic recovery.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said the president is right to consider putting "the oil we have in reserve into the economy."

"I'm worried that if we don't use the reserve that our economic recovery will stall and fall backwards," Durbin said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "We don't need to see unemployment figures going up."

Durbin said tapping the emergency 727-million-barrel reserve would pump resources into the market and help address the problem impacted by unrest in the Middle East.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, prices have gone up from an average of $3.19 per gallon to $3.52 per gallon between Feb. 21 and March 7.

At a news conference Friday, President Obama said he's willing to tap the reserve in response to possible disruptions to America's oil supply. However, Obama made it clear the current situation differs from previous instances when the government dipped into the strategic reserve, like Hurricane Katrina's impact on Gulf region refineries in 2005.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona disagreed with the president.

"The problem is not supply," Kyl told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

"Gas prices have doubled under Obama and one of the reasons is because he has not issued drilling permits, including in the Gulf," Kyl said on "State of the Union." "We can get American energy on line if we simply grant the permits so the companies can start the drilling."

Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California said he wants an "all of the above" approach to energy, which he said does not include the short-term solution provided by tapping the reserves.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also put some blame on President Obama for the rising gas prices.

"He certainly has participated," McConnell said on "FOX News Sunday." "There has been a conscious effort (by the Obama administration) to make it difficult to drill in this country."

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

Filed under: Dick Durbin • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The reasons the republicans will not stand up to big oil, is that most of the elected repubes in Washington DC, are on their payroll.

    March 13, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. Jim

    Americans feel cheap oil and gas is their right, not a privilege. Arrogance. Look around the world and see other countries' gas prices.

    March 13, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Larry L

    We've produced more domestic oil during the Obama administration's time than during the Bush years. President Obama's motivation to produce oil is national security, the strength of the economy and a smooth transition to energy independence. President Bush's motivation was to make his buddies even richer. Ironically, domestically produced oil is simply oil. It goes into the world market like any other product. It is a finite resource and we will continue to fall behind other nations if we continue our dependence on carbon fuels. We will also create an environmental disaster for our children. Why is this hard to understand?

    March 13, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. BILL, WI

    Typical political ploy, keep the masses happy with some simplistic slogan. At the current oil consumption in the United States releasing the Strategic Petroleum Reserves will only drop the price of gasoline at the pump by less than five cents. And at 800 Million Bbls in reserve that number equates to a month and half of oil. And do you expect to happen if the situation in Saudi Arabia goes south as quickly as it did in Egypt and Libya. What oil will be in the Strategic Reserves then to help the economy recover. Durbin should not worry about the price of gasoline at the pump, he should worry about the supply of oil for trucks, planes and trains which is the true force behind our economy.

    March 13, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. DAVE

    sorry durbin! i am a democrat and this time your wrong. the oil reserves are for making up for supply of oil to this country . there is no supply problem that i have heard about. if you want the oil price to come down you might want to look into the habits of oil brokers and speculators who are driving the price up because of fear only. now one the other hand if you are a republican have joy when you by gas for your car because you are building your country. ronald raegan said "greed is good ,greed built this country". so dear republicans be happy that you are getting yet anouther chance to "build your country"!

    March 13, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. CaliforniaBC

    Okay...two idiots here. First, Kyle, my favorite, if Obama's policies have been responsible for the rise in oil prices then why was it that they did not begin to rise until the Egyptian uprising and continued their sharp increases since the Libyan virtual civil war? Why is that Kyle?? Please can some reporters ASK these questions, PLEASE!! They're called "follow-ups" people, come on do your jobs.

    And now to this Democrat, yes I am a Democrat too but..., tapping the reserves will do nothing to lower the price. Since prices are set globally, the amount of input into the US market from the strategic reserves will be wholly insignificant on thw world stage. Second, there has been no disruption of supply. These prices are due to "what-if's". It's the speculators that are hedging their bets on whether or not supplies will be reduced. So...we are all paying higher prices because of a select few who are making money off betting on "IF" which is costing us all money and hardship.

    If people want a target....target the stock/commodities markets and those who are playing the speculation game.

    March 13, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  7. Daniel

    About everyone this article quoted has it wrong. We DO NOT need to tap our emergency oil reserves just because Americans can't stomach slightly higher gas prices (which are still BY FAR the lowest in the developed world). The reserve would be depleted in no time and then we wouldn't have it in the case of a REAL emergency! All those Republicans who say that gas prices are rising because Obama and the evil Democrats are making it hard to drill is ABSURD. Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the last month knows exactly why these prices are high (heard of the Middle East??) and most people understand that domestic drilling will be most insignificant in solving our energy problems, and useless in getting us off our dependence on foreign oil. Come on people, it's $3.50 gas, it's not the end of the world. Go to Germany and buy their $8.50 a gallon gas and then come back and shut your loud mouths.

    March 13, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. m 1sterlurk

    "Gas prices have doubled under Obama and one of the reasons is because he has not issued drilling permits, including in the Gulf," Kyl said on "State of the Union."

    Yes, because we all want another oil spill.

    March 13, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Adalbert

    The fact is that the normal supply and demand theory and government actions or inactions have absolutely nothing to do with the price of oil today. The dictators, the government and everything else is being used as a smoke screen to cover up the mostly illegal actions of the filthy rich oil speculators on wall street..

    March 13, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    I've heard complaints form people like Pat Robertson about using the reserves- what are they for if not when we need them most?
    They can be replenished when this price gouging stops or could be done away with if we would create proprer alternatives to oil based energy. Looks like Nuclear power just took a huge hit!

    March 13, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. a in austin

    Just more lies....It's Libya, stupid! Of course, it doesn't help that these liars are bought and paid for by big oil. More drilling at home? That oil doesn't stay here. It is shipped where the oil companies want to ship it. Wake up America.

    March 13, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  12. Obamacare = Romneycare v1.01

    This is bogus.

    What good is it to issue additional drilling permits when the oil companies refuse to build additional refineries to process the oil?

    I'd issue the permits, but only after additional refineries were built with American labor, on American soil, and were on line.

    March 13, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. kyle

    Oil prices are rising because the greedy oil tycoons are taking advantage of the crisis in the middle east, it's just an excuse to gouge silly Americans once again.

    March 13, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. usualone

    The President cannot win. If he allowed drilling after the recent oil disaster in the Gulf, he would never hear the end of it. Because he thinks about his fellow human beings and the repercussions of going iin this direction , he has be cautious. Circumstances have shifted with the rising oil prices and therefore he has to reconsider this decision. Then if he lets the drilling begin and there are mishaps, he will be accused of being wrong again. Thus the negatives will make the news. The Republicans show they are all about being anti this President as shown in this article; and they don't really think about the people who will have the drilling near their homes.

    March 13, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. seriously???

    Despicable to blame any politician for gas prices, Republican or Democrat. Oil is a commodity subject to speculation. Oil production in the U.S. is at an all time high. Period. After the oil disasters this country has experienced, and the ineptitude of the oil companies have displayed, only a total idiot would put an oil rig in everyone's back yard.

    March 13, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Indy

    "Gas prices have doubled under Obama and one of the reasons is because he has not issued drilling permits, including in the Gulf," Kyl said on "State of the Union." "We can get American energy on line if we simply grant the permits so the companies can start the drilling."

    This statement is 100% false and trying to make Obama the fall guy with flat out lies is going to backfire on Republicans. Kyl better go back to school if he thinks granting permits for more drilling will affect the price of fuel.You simply cannot trust Republicans to ever tell the truth.

    March 13, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  17. vic nashville tn

    "Gas prices have doubled under Obama and one of the reasons is because he has not issued drilling permits, including in the Gulf,"

    Really 2001 gas price $1.70 2007 $ 3. 40 that is doubled that time defends from republicans was Europeans was paying high gas price almost double what we pay

    March 13, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. Chris

    Seriously? Do they think that we have forgotten about Deepwater Horizon already?

    March 13, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  19. Daniel Lampke

    What angers me is that gas prices aren't even based on supply and demand, but on market speculation. Yes, let's place the future of one of our most valuable products in the hands of corrupt brokers that can afford gas to $50 a gallon, shall we?

    However, I digress. Neither of these solutions is adequate in the slightest. They only strengthen a vicious cycle that has been instated since the 70's. Drilling will destroy the environment even more than it already has been. (Thank you, BP, it seems that even British companies have massive corruption within.) And as for the reserves, this is, as mentioned, a temporary solution. It is true that the reserves have enough oil to power us for months, but it will eventually run out.

    We must break our dependency on oil, domestic and foreign. With prices reaching over $3.50 and only climbing higher, it is clear an alternative solution must be devised. Renewable energy, people! Sometime in the 90's... don't quote me when, a full electric car was fielded to consumers in California. The car performed beautifully with few kinks. After the trail, it was recalled, and never seen or heard from again, despite the fact that it was ready for factory production at a reasonable price.

    This is the problem in America. A mutual relationship between car companies and the oil industry, a relationship that is wonderful for them but parasitic to us, the consumer. In fact, this entire situation could be considered synonymous to WWI, where entangling alliances embroiled Europe in total war. This is what America is turning into, a corporate net of alliances that prevents those with good intentions from changing the way things work without starting a war.

    Will there be a Civil War II before anything is changed in this blasted country? I sure hope not, but with the way things are going, the future doesn't look good.

    -Daniel Lampke, student.

    March 13, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. lgny

    It's called "keep your powder dry".

    There is the potential on the horizon of major oil disturbances. For example, consider what could happen if a popular uprising gets underway in Saudi Arabia. Today's price increases have nothing to do with oil supply but rather speculators worrying about what might happen.

    It's silly to use the strategic reserves now. Then, if the unthinkable happens, we will have used up our reserves prematurely, leaving us badly exposed when the big problem hits.

    March 13, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |