The Campaign Spot

Obama to Cameron: Let’s Use Our Emergency Oil Reserves!

Not long ago, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal laid out how President Obama had put placating his environmental allies ahead of developing America’s domestic energy resources, particularly in terms of oil — both in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and at a press conference after a governors’ meeting in Washington:

Several things he should be doing: For the last few years now, he’s been slowing down the leasing activity both offshore and onshore. When you look at oil and gas leasing on public lands, they talk about the record production here domestically. What don’t tell you is how much of that activity is taking place on private lands, and what they don’t tell you is how much of that activity is based on decisions made before he became president.

The president himself talked about how energy prices are being driven now by the sense of future risk, not that current supply and demand are imbalanced. One of the things a president can do is create a predictable environment for energy production. He hasn’t done that in permitting and leasing even now. Offshore, we’re still not up to normal permitting activity and we’re still not up to normal leasing in the Gulf.

As an administration, they can send a clear signal on fracking, procedures which have revolutionized our supply natural gas, that they’re not going to shut this down. That’s incredibly important . . . Take a look at the price of natural gas. It makes a tremendous difference if you’re a steel manufacturer, if you’re a fertilizer company, if you’re a plastics company. It makes a tremendous difference for those using natural gas to heat their home. It makes a tremendous difference to those who use natural gas to fuel their vehicles. This administration could send a clear signal that they understand that fracking is a safe way for us to produce energy and that they’re not about to shut that down. There’s tremendous concern in the industry. These are huge, multi-year capital investments. Companies are looking for certainty.

You talked about the CO2 emissions that could come out of the EPA. The mere threat of cap-and-trade regulation . . . A Democratic governor asked today, “Mr. President, what can you do in the short term?” Some Democratic congressmen have talked about using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Even the president himself said, releasing from the SPR without international action isn’t going to do anything, because other producers could just lower their production.

This president could stand up tomorrow and give a speech to the nation that says, “I understand how important it is for us to have affordable reliable energy, so I’ve instructed my cabinet heads to make sure we’re not issuing any regulations that are interfering with safe, sound domestic production of energy. I’m making sure we’re doing everything we can to bring more reliable energy to this country, and so I’m going to reverse my decision on the pipeline. I’m going to make sure Keystone gets built, so that we make sure the Canadians don’t go and sell their energy to the Chinese.”

We’ve got an ally that has been a steadfast ally and trading partner, for us to tell them we’re going to politicize the decision about whether they should sell energy to us or to the Chinese — that has an impact on supply and prices.

Maybe you can ask him to give that speech, since I don’t think he’ll listen to us.

Instead of any of these proposals, President Obama discussed another option with Prime Minister David Cameron.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the possibility of releasing emergency oil reserves during a meeting on Wednesday, two sources familiar with the talks said, the first sign that Obama is starting to test global support for an effort to knock back near-record fuel prices.

Obama raised the issue during a broad bilateral meeting at the White House, according to a UK official with knowledge of the discussion.

The “emergency” would seem to be Obama’s poll numbers. Then again, this seems to be a Democratic-candidate tradition; Al Gore called for the same move while running for president in 2000.

Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has been sold five times in its history: Most recently in 2011 during the conflict in Libya; in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina; a sale of  $227 million worth of oil during fiscal year 1996 to reduce the federal budget deficit; in 1990–91 during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and a small “test sale” in 1985.

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