SPR shouldn’t be used to control oil prices

A bomber detonates an explosion at a Saudi Arabian oil refinery, shutting down a big part of the Saudi petroleum production capacity.

Oil prices spike around the world, including the United States, which I thought had achieved a level of “energy independence,” that it wasn’t dependent on Saudi oil to keep our motor vehicles running.

What does Donald Trump say in response? He has authorized dipping into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help shore up fossil fuel supply and, thus, seek to tamp down an expected spike in oil prices.

That’s the wrong use of the SPR, Mr. President. It’s been done before. Other presidents have sought to use the SPR in this fashion. I have been critical of this tactic in the past.

The SPR was created to help the United States avoid the kind of fossil fuel emergency that erupted in the wake of the Arab oil embargo in the early 1970s. The SPR comprises huge underground storage capacity along the Gulf Coast; the oil is stored under so-called “salt domes.”

Its mission is to act as a hedge against actual fossil fuel emergencies.

As near as I can tell, the United States will not run out of oil. Our nation’s gasoline pumps are not in danger of running dry. There won’t be interminable lines as gas pumps, which is what happened in 1973.

The president need not siphon fuel from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Think again, Mr. President.

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