I think that the strategic petroleum reserve should only be tapped in a dire situation. We should save the reserve for an urgent disruption in the nation’s fuel supply. Though rising gas prices may slow economic recovery efforts, the current situation is not a crisis. Personally, I think we must conserve our petroleum supply for if and when a situation becomes dire enough to significantly disrupt the nation. If that situation comes, I’d be ok with Obama tapping the reserve. Though our nation must move away from petroleum, the fact remains that we consume a quarter of the world’s oil and we must consider our economy.
The price of oil is not related to actions (or inactions) by US governments.
The strategic reserve is intended to alleviate shortages, not globally-driven price increases.
I think that to tap the reserve is a bad idea. When gas prices spike anywhere from fifty cents to a dollar it’s not necessarily a crisis. If gas jumped five dollars or more in price maybe the gas reserves need to be tapped. The fact is I’m not about to go steal my neighbor’s gasoline from his/her car because gas is too expensive. I’m just going to drive less and spend less money on things I don’t need.
I think it’s rhetoric. President Obama wants to show people that’s he aware of their concerns regarding high gas prices, even if there is little he can do to mitigate them. As an above poster states, the strategic reserve, put in place in the mid 70s following a severe oil shortage, is intended as an emergency reserve to be tapped only when there is a sudden drop in oil supply. The current spike in prices is driven by uncertainty arising from instability in the Middle East, as opposed to an actual significant drop in global supply.
Economic recoveries are delicate things, especially when the pit we’re climbing out of is the deepest recession since the depression. If high gas prices posed a genuine threat to the recovery, I think, in this case, it would be good to tap the strategic reserve. We’re not there yet–gas would have to climb over $5 a gallon, and hold there–but with deficit reduction driving politics at all levels of government, states cutting back severely, corporations sitting on trillions of dollars (or investing it in China or India), anything that makes consumers question every dime they spend is an impediment to the recovery. In “normal” times, I’d be happy to see consumers cutting back, but we are not in normal times.
After the 1983 recession, housing pulled the economy back. High interest rates had suppressed construction and the real estate market for years, and when interest rates eased, housing took off. Not so today. There’s a huge inventory of houses on the market, so construction and housing aren’t going to pull us out. Anything that further suppresses consumer spending at this point is a problem.
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