A release now would mark the second time that the Obama administration has released oil from the reserve to stabilize oil prices. Last year, President Obama released 30 million barrels of oil to offset the disruption in the global oil supply caused by fighting in Libya. This was matched by 30 million additional barrels released from stockpiles in other countries.
Only three times in history has a president released oil from the reserve. The first was by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. The second release was by President George W. Bush in 2005 because of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina on the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico, and the third was by President Obama last year.
The reserve was established in the aftermath of the 1973-74 oil embargo and was intended to give the President a tool to respond to disruptions in the oil supply that threaten the U.S. economy.
The petroleum reserve has a capacity of 727 million barrels, making it the largest stockpile of government-owned emergency crude oil in the world. The reserve currently has 695 million barrels of oil.
“There are plenty of storm clouds on the horizon,” the Senate Republican leadership team’s letter concluded. “The government must adequately shelter the American people and vigorously protect their rainy-day fund.”
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