Back in March 2020, President Donald Trump proposed a plan to spend $3 billion to top off America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves. This is a Petroleum Reserve that was built after the 1973 oil embargo, and can hold up to 727 million barrels that can be used in a national emergency. Senate Democrats took credit for stripping this $3 billion from the $2 trillion stimulus package last spring, and called it a “bailout” for the oil industry.
To put the amount of petroleum that this reserve can hold into perspective, if completely full, this reserve would technically be able to provide all of the oil that the U.S. needs for about a month at the current usage rate, if the oil was able to be released all at once. Because only 4.4 million barrels could be released per day, that would be dragged out to 165 days.
This reserve has been tapped into several times over the past few decades to pay for legislation and to help balanced the budget in the 1990s under Bill Clinton, and has been opened several times, including just before Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and again in June 2011 to help curb the spike in gasoline prices.
I’ve been saying for over a decade that this reserve should be kept 100% full and only used in times of true emergencies, like we are currently seeing. A rise in gas prices is not an emergency. I said that when both Bush and Obama used it to try to lower gas prices. What is an emergency however is when a foreign group hacks our energy grid, disrupting the largest oil pipeline in the country that provides 45% of all oil used on the East Coast. This weekend would have been the time to start temporarily releasing oil from that reserve with the plan to fill it up again once we had the pipeline fully operational.
Of course that all would depend on us having leaders who knew what they are doing and care more about the interest of the security of this country and not their own political interests. Senate Democrats were able to “find” $2 trillion for a stimulus package but couldn’t find an extra $3 billion for national security? They can find trillions of dollars for “infrastructure” but couldn’t find $3 billion for actual infrastructure?
It’s time that our elected officials start putting our national security first and get serious about preventing things like this from happening again, and prepare by doing things like filling up our Strategic Petroleum Reserves for if and when it does happen again. This is just another reminder that our entire way of life is very vulnerable to attack and can be disrupted quickly.