Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Strategic Petroleum Reserves Becomes A Political Football

A double hat-tip to Geraghty the Indispensible and Captain Ed Morrissey. As Mr. Geraghty notes, "All Barack Obama statements come with an expiration date. All of them."

It appears that Senator Obama has waffled again on a previously-stated position. Back in August of 2005 Senator Obama released the following statement regarding the president's release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:

I agree with the President’s decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help replenish supply shortages resulting from Hurricane Katrina. Nearly all oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut down, and releasing this oil will help increase production and stabilize prices. However, I do believe that this tragedy makes it very clear that that the reserve should only be used in the event of an emergency, and that we shouldn’t be tapping the reserve to provide a small, short-term decrease in gas prices.

Jim Geraghty adds this:

Of course, the RNC notes Obama was arguing against tapping into the strategic oil reserves a lot more recently than August 2005:

"I do not believe that we should use the strategic oil reserves at this point. I have said and, in fact, supported a congressional resolution that said that we should suspend putting more oil into the strategic oil reserve, but the strategic oil reserve, I think, has to be reserved for a genuine emergency. You have a situation, let's say, where there was a major oil facility in Saudi Arabia that was destroyed as a consequence of terrorist acts, and you suddenly had huge amounts of oil taken out of the world market, we wouldn't just be seeing $4-a-gallon oil. We could see a situation where entire sectors of the country had no oil to function at all. And that's what the strategic oil reserve has to be for." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At Media Availability, St. Louis, MO, 7/7/08)

We are not aware of any emergency that has occurred, but Senator Obama now wants to tap the reserves:

Democrat Barack Obama called today for tapping the nation's strategic oil reserves to help drive down gasoline prices, a shift from his previous position on the issue.

The reversal is the second refinement in Obama's energy policy. Last week, he said that he would reluctantly consider accepting some offshore oil drilling. Obama had previously said he opposed such drilling, which is strongly backed by rival John McCain, who has urged that states be allowed to decide whether to drill.

So what is the emergency? We believe, as Captain Ed does, that the emergency is the damage Nancy Pelosi is taking right now in her blatant refusal to hold a vote in the House on opening up the OCS -- another reversal by Senator Obama that occurred last week. He has to do something to help her because she has been one of his most outspoken proponents. A little tit-for-tat, if you will. The problem with this reversal is that it cannot be compared to Senator McCain's reversal on drilling.

When the issue was first put to him back in 2000, he was against it because, in his opinion, we were not in a crisis to warrant opening up new fields in the OCS, ANWR, or the continental United States. Today, that issue is reaching crisis proportions. He reacted to a change in the world we live in. (We will admit that had the politicians in DC not been so beholden to the environmentalists years ago, we would not be in the position we are today. Shame on them for being so short-sighted.) Senator Obama's shifts have been in relation to pressure he is feeling in the polls, and not some sort of over-reaching concern for the consumer. His shift today, as Captain Ed notes, might have something to do the newest Rasmussen numbers out today showing Senator McCain with a one point lead over Senator Obama; an inconvenient truth that surely has left the Obama camp befuddled as they had a nine point lead last week.

We are not sure that Senator Obama changed this position because of the polls. We are not even entirely convinced that he did this to give Nancy Pelosi some cover. We do know this is a pander, and one that is in the wrong direction. Despite the paltry amount he is calling for -- seventy million barrels -- it will not help in the long run. It will not even really help in the short term. This nation uses approximately twenty million barrels of oil a day. His call would help us for three days, maybe four if we stretch it. That is not comparable to the trillions of barrels of oil sitting underneath this nation, and in the OCS. Drilling those areas would sincerely help this nation for the long term.

Keep in mind that any release from the SPR would have to be replenished at some time. Without drilling, we would have to shorten our supplies to industry and the consumer to put that oil back in the reserves. The short term solution could be more costly to us than Senator Obama understands.



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