There’s a poignant irony about the upcoming July 4th holiday. We’re celebrating Independence Day at a time that so many Americans are suffering from an acute lack of economic independence. Jobs are scarce and inflated fuel costs are making everything from food to appliances more expensive. And while the same could have been said about the economy last year, or even the year before, we are struck this year by the weak response coming out of Washington: tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
It’s not that President Obama’s decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve won’t make a difference; it’s that any impact it does have on increasing oil supplies and lowering prices will be slight and temporary and will do absolutely nothing to address the bigger problem of U.S. dependence on foreign oil. This longstanding dependence on foreign oil and neglect of our own natural resources has cost us jobs in the oil and oil-related sector, and has left just about every American’s budget subject to the whims of a global market dominated by foreign producers with their own political agendas. We need a long-term solution to our energy and economic woes – one that addresses that full complement of renewable domestic energy solutions from oil and natural gas to emerging alternative energy solutions.
The essential problem with viewing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a solution to an energy supply crunch is that it’s just far too small to offset the volumes of oil we could – and should – be producing in the U.S. Even when it is filled to capacity, the reserve can only hold about 725 million barrels of oil, enough to power the United States for a little more than a month, based on current consumption levels. And the amount of oil that can be released at any given time without compromising the integrity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is much smaller: To deal with the current supply crunch, the U.S. is releasing about 30 million barrels.
That’s a volume that we could easily achieve with more active drilling and production. CEA recently published a response to the President’s decision to release oil from the SPR, where we note that granting permits to explore and produce in parts of Alaska that are currently off limits could add 1.37 million barrels of oil per day. Granting permits that would provide for more production in the Gulf of Mexico, along with approving the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, could bring that increased production up to 2.2 million barrels per day. And unlike the oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which can only provide temporary relief, oil from Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico could make a real difference in supplies – and prices – for far more than 30 days.
The overall impact of the President’s decision is more clearly seen by looking at today’s world crude oil price – which is back approve the price prior to the President’s decision to release oil from the SPR. Yes, any price benefits lasted less than one week. A longer-term, more sensible solution is needed that will help the U.S. job situation and improve the economy.
To illustrate the key point on how energy impacts jobs and the economy, CEA released its newest publication this week titled Energy, Jobs, & The Economy: Powering America’s Future which addresses exactly how our continued failure to have a coherent, sensible energy policy has affected our economy, helped kill jobs and hinder overall U.S. competitiveness.