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The PJ Tatler

Bridget Johnson


March 6, 2012 - 5:30 am

A bill introduced in the House on Monday would only let President Obama tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve if he proportionally increases oil and gas leases on federal lands.

For example, if Obama decided to take 5 percent of the SPR to ease gas prices, he would have to increases oil and gas production leases by 5 percent.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) announced the legislation outside a gas station in his district.

“This bill is about achieving energy independence and keeping prices at the pump affordable,” Gardner said. “There are many factors that affect gas prices in our country, and lots of those factors – like war in the Middle East – are unpredictable.  The White House is already talking about tapping the SPR if prices jump too high this summer.”

The bill, which limits the increase in leases to 10 percent, has 10 Republican co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

If the president decides to draw down the strategic reserve, his announcement will start the clock ticking — under the bill, Obama will have 180 days to develop a leasing plan.

“While I support efforts to keep prices low, I think we cannot and should not ignore the most important thing we can be doing, which is tapping into our domestic energy resources,” Gardner said.

Obama last tapped into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in June 2011. Gardner’s office noted that it had been drawn down three previous times: during Operation Desert Storm by Bush Sr., after Hurricane Katrina by George W. Bush, and by Bill Clinton eight weeks before Vice President Al Gore’s presidential election.

Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) introduced a bill last month that would bar Obama from tapping the reserve unless he approves the Keystone XL pipeline.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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