Enter your email address to signup for Barrasso's Newsletter
The country’s oil reserves are best saved for an emergency, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso and other top Republican senators said in a formal letter to President Obama Monday.
In the letter, Barrasso and six other members of the Senate Republican Policy Committee insisted the president not to draw from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which they said is a last resort — not a political tool.
“The SPR is America’s rainy-day fund,” the senators wrote. “We ask you to preserve it for a truly rainy day when an unanticipated emergency or severe supply disruption occurs.”
The group wrote the letter after months of speculation that the White House would sell oil from the reserve in order to deal with climbing oil prices — which could go even higher in the face of tensions in the Middle East.
When reached for comment, a White House press official referred questions to a Sept. 18 press conference given by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
“We monitor the situation regularly and constantly together with our international partners and we continue to say that all options remain on the table,” Carney told reporters at the conference. “But I don’t have any announcements to make today.”
According to the delegation, the current tension does not yet justify the release of reserves.
“We have not yet seen the discrete event that directly affects our oil supply and justifies tapping our reserves,” they wrote. “We must preserve the (reserve) for when we truly need it--unanticipated emergencies and severe supply disruptions.”
The administration sold about 30 million of the 720-million-barrel reserve last summer after a civil war broke out in Libya and vastly reduced that nation’s exports. Prices dipped slightly after the sale, but rose back to pre-sale prices within weeks.
The delegation — led by Barrasso, who chairs the policy committee — insisted that another drawdown would have long-term consequences.
“An SPR oil release comes at significant cost to the American people,” the delegation wrote, adding that it will cost about $1 billion to refill the reserves after last year’s sale. The group also asked the administration to provide a detailed plan for refilling the reserves.
The letter was also signed by Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., John Thune, R-S.D., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and James Inhofe, R-Okla.
“There are plenty of storm clouds on the horizon,” they wrote. “The government must adequately shelter the American people and vigorously protect their rainy-day fund.”