Predictably, as gas prices are escalating due to rising world demand and recent political instability in the Middle East, some politicians in Washington are calling for a release of oil from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve. According to The New York Times, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has joined others this week in calling for a significant sale of oil from the reserve. The response from some politicians to release oil from the strategic petroleum reserve with the hopes of lowering prices (a questionable outcome) points to the fallacy of making U.S. energy policy based on short-term political considerations rather than a long-term balanced energy policy that is in the best interest of the nation.
To its credit, the Obama Administration has so far resisted efforts to raid the strategic petroleum reserve (although their motives are unclear — some may prefer higher gasoline prices, as they believe this will force motorists into smaller vehicles and electric cars). It is bad public policy to release oil from the strategic petroleum reserve as there is currently no crisis of availability which would threaten the nation's security.
It is a national security priority that we responsibly develop all of our energy resources in North America including off-shore oil reserves as well as oil shale in the West and oil sands in Canada. To do otherwise makes the United States vulnerable to not only price shocks but also oil shortages, which are a threat to our national security.
Energy policy in the United States and Michigan has been driven in recent years by short-term political considerations and unrealistic environmental ideology. Michigan lawmakers should lead by example in reversing the ban on directional drilling for oil and gas under the Great Lakes and urge Congress to follow suit. Any country that does not responsibly develop its natural resources is relegating itself to dependence on foreign powers which are often unfriendly — a situation clearly not in the best interest of U.S. citizens.