In response to the recent increase in gas prices, some have called for the president to again release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) as a way to bring prices down. This is a politically expedient response that fails to provide a long-term solution. Experience has shown that releasing oil from the SPR as a market manipulation tool has a short lived impact on the price of gasoline.
The SPR is a stockpile of oil set aside for use in an emergency, such as a disruption of oil imports from the Middle East. It can only last for a matter of months, and then would need to be replenished. Moreover, its use for political purposes threatens our security in the event of a real national security threat. In contrast, increased domestic drilling on federal lands would provide a genuine addition to the nation’s oil supply, and one that would last for decades instead of mere months.
Energy and Power Subcommittee member Cory Gardner (R-CO), together with several of his colleagues, has introduced H.R. 4480, the Strategic Energy Production Act to provide a solution. The Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012 requires the Secretary of Energy to develop a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for oil and gas production after the next SPR sale. Currently only three percent of federal land is leased for oil and gas development. The increase in the percentage of federal lands leased would be commensurate with the percentage that was drawn down from the SPR. The lands available for leasing would be among the vast 2.4 billion acres of government lands under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, Department of Defense.
Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012: What it Will Do
- Would make a release from the SPR part of longer term energy strategy by requiring more federal lands to be leased after a release.
- Would address the growing problem of falling production of oil on federal lands.
The Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012: What it Will Not Do
- Would not limit the ability of the president to release oil from the SPR.
- Would not open more then 10 percent of federal lands to leasing.
- Would not allow leasing on federal lands managed under the National Park Service or National Wilderness Preservation System.