The PJ Tatler

Obama's political decision to release some of the nation's strategic reserves

President Obama entered the US into the Libya conflict on the pretext of defending human rights, while ignoring even worse human rights abuses taking place in Iran and Syria. Today he cited Libya as the reason to release 3o million barrels from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, though the ongoing disruption of supplies from Libya barely touches the US — we don’t buy our oil from Libya. Europe does, though, and thus far they have mangled the NATO operation in Libya.

Obama’s release from the SPR represents the largest single release in US history. The previous record was 21 million barrels, and was set by President George W. Bush in 2005 in response to the supply disruption when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Obama’s release is not in response to a strategic threat or an actual disruption to US supplies, but to a political threat: High gas prices threaten his re-election. It’s amazing that it has taken this long for the president to figure that out.

The SPR contains roughly 727 million barrels of oil. The 30 million US barrels plus 30 million the Europeans and Asians plan to release represent less than a day’s global consumption and is not a long-term fix to the problems that plague Obama’s economy. Those problems he either inherited and made much worse with poor policies, or created on his own by letting ideology drive his administration’s actions, from the EPA to the NLRB to ObamaCare and the Democrats’ stubborn insistence on raising taxes to pay for their own spending spree since January 2009. The Obama administration and the Democrats have consistently put ideology above the needs of the country, and they have an awful economy to show for it.

The solution is to roll back Obama’s regulatory state, cut government spending, and open up US sources to more exploration and more drilling. As a candidate, Obama resisted calls to expand drilling, arguing that it would take years to have any impact. Now we are years down the road, we are not expanding drilling, and he is resorting to playing politics with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Today’s release from the SPR is a desperate president pushing the political panic button.