Release the reserves?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In the past week, the Obama administration announced the release of 33 million barrels of oil from the nation’s strategic oil reserves in order to lower gas prices. This decision is faulty for several reasons based on politics, economics and national security.

I say that the decision was faulty on the basis of politics because making such an abnormal decision – releasing oil from the strategic oil reserves – months after the price of gas hit record highs and the president’s approval rating hit record lows will meet stiff political opposition and cries of “playing politics.” The Republicans will say he did it to make the American people happy and that it won’t have any real effect on the price of gas at the pump.

Which leads me to my next point, the release of the oil won’t have any noticeable effect on the price of gas at the pump. The 33 million barrels of oil released by President Obama is equal to the amount America regularly consumes in a day and a half. In the middle of the summer driving season, and with world consumption of oil rising, releasing a day and a half’s consumption will not affect the price much at all.

The last time oil was released from the Strategic Oil Reserves, the price of gas decreased by 1 percent. Also, keep in mind that this “release” is occurring at the same time that drilling in the Gulf of Mexico continues to be stalled by the president’s drilling moratorium, which has reduced the amount of oil available for production.

The last reason I offer to illustrate that the decision by the president to release oil from the Strategic Oil Reserves was faulty lies in the actual name of the reserves. They aren’t called the “Strategic Oil Reserve” because it makes them sound important. They are important.

The stockpiles, hidden throughout the nation, are held by the government for use during emergencies such as war, natural disaster and other extreme situations. The reserves were not created for political or minor economic benefit. They were created to ensure that America had the oil it needed to defend itself militarily and keep vital services operable in the event of an oil shortage or blockade. So, releasing the oil from the reserves actually decreases the nation’s national security.

If the president and members of Congress really wanted to lower the price of gas, improve the nation’s ability to provide our own energy and increase our national security they would all quit fighting for a few minutes and craft an energy policy grounded on science and economics, not politics.

The last bite…

Last week, I attended the annual Louisiana Tourism Promotion Association luncheon held at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Burnside. The meal started off with Judy Davis singing “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” and ended with bread pudding topped with praline sauce cascading down the sides. I give Houmas House and Chef Jeremy Langlois’s southern cooking 5 (out of 5) crumbs!

Buddy Boe, a resident of Garyville, owns a public relations and program management company and is well known on the local political (and food) scenes. His column appears Wednesdays in L’Observateur.