Gardner introduces bill to keep gas affordable and increase domestic production
WASHINGTON D.C. – In light of recent news that tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is on the table to help deal with high oil and gasoline prices this summer, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced this morning that he is introducing legislation aimed at linking a drawdown of the SPR to increasing domestic energy production.
“This bill is about achieving energy independence and keeping prices at the pump affordable,” Gardner said. “There are many factors that affect gas prices in our country, and lots of those factors – like war in the Middle East – are unpredictable. The White House is already talking about tapping the SPR if prices jump too high this summer. While I support efforts to keep prices low, I think we cannot and should not ignore the most important thing we can be doing, which is tapping into our domestic energy resources.”
Gardner’s bill essentially ties a drawdown of the SPR to an increase of oil and gas leases on federal lands. For example, if the President decides to tap 5 percent of the SPR then Gardner’s bill triggers the Secretaries of Energy, Agriculture, and the Interior to develop a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for oil and gas production by 5 percent or what is being depleted from the SPR. The bill sets a deadline of 180 days after the announcement to tap the SPR for the development of a plan. It also limits the increase of leases to a total of 10 percent. The bill includes an exception for national disasters and emergencies.
The last time President Obama tapped the SPR was in June of 2011. Before that, the SPR had been used three times: once for war, once to combat a natural disaster, and once for political opportunism.
In 1991, President H.W. Bush used the Strategic Petroleum Reserves during Operation Desert Storm to stave off the potential of oil prices skyrocketing due to millions of barrels of oil production dropping because of turbulence in the Middle East. In 2005, President G.W. Bush opened up the SPR to combat the rising oil prices due to Hurricane Katrina. The Hurricane stopped shipments of critical oil production and imports into the Gulf of Mexico. In 2000, President Clinton opened up the SPR 8 weeks before the Bush/Gore election night. Clinton claimed it was critical to bring OPEC prices down and stabilize the market, but his motives have been questioned considering Gore was his vice president at the time.
History of the SPR:
During the 1970’s Arab oil embargo, Congress created the 727 million barrel reserve intended for national security emergencies, dramatic supply shut downs, and natural disasters. The SPR is not intended to be used as a political gain to put a short term band-aid on gasoline prices.