I was asked by the National Journal to weigh in on the following question for their Energy & Environment blog:
"What precedent is this administration setting by tapping into the reserves at a time of ongoing unrest in the Middle East and seemingly sustained high oil prices?"
Here is my answer:
Precedence? You ask what precedent the administration is setting by tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for only the third time in our nation's history? I'll tell you. They are setting a precedent as easily the most blatantly political administration ever in American history.
I'll offer just a few examples of the evidence:
1. This is the administration with a publicly stated objective to "boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."
2. This is the administration that cancelled existing leases on millions of acres of federal land and banned development in vast amounts of reserves both on and off-shore.
3. This is the administration that was ordered by a federal court to lift an ill-conceived moratorium on drilling in the gulf, and then was found in contempt with a "determined disregard" of the court's ruling to start issuing permits.
4. This is the administration that turned "a regulatory firehose" on US business and the energy industry in particular with 29 new major regulations and 172 major policy rules finalized or proposed in its first 22 months.
5. This is the administration who lied to congress in March, 2011 by claiming production in the gulf "remained at an all-time high, and we expect that it will continue." However the Government's own Energy Information Agency had already reported a decline of 300,000 bpd in the first year following the administration's gulf moratorium fiasco and projected a total decline in production of 35% by late summer, 2012.
6. This is the administration whose policies have caused revenues from onshore oil and gas leasing in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming to plunge more than 80%, and total acreage leased to shrink to the lowest level ever.
7. This is the administration that Steve Forbes correctly labeled as having the "most anti-oil and gas record in U.S. history."
8. This is the administration that promised that energy cost would "skyrocket" under their plan of onerous regulation.
And, now having waged war on the energy industry and American consumer's wallets for more than two years; that is exactly what has happened. Despite some recent relief, prices for gasoline are almost double what they were when Obama took office, and due to new regulations being imposed by the Obama Administration, analysts are warning that electricity rates could jump 40-60% over the next few years.
The crisis that prompted Barack Obama to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve didn't come from a foreign enemy or a natural disaster, as was the case the only two other times that the SPR has been drained. This was entirely a crisis of Obama's own making. It even has a name – "Operation Re-Election."
The sorry state of the economic recovery and kitchen table issues overwhelm any other issue on the minds of voters. So, Obama and his Central Planners will pull out all the stops in trying to hoodwink the voters one more time; even if that means creating a national security vulnerability by draining the SPR in exchange for a few cents of relief at the pump. This isn't the first time this administration has been shameless, and with a year and a half until the election we're likely in for a few more examples.
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