What the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Can – and Can’t – Do When Americans Get Worried About the Price of Oil
Well, it had to happen: as oil prices edge up to $100 per barrel, members of Congress have started calling for the nation to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to hold prices down. It’s not surprising. High oil prices cost votes. But believing the petroleum reserve is actually going to solve our price problem is a lot like Basil Fawlty’s response when a fire drill turns into a real fire: panicky and ineffective, but unfortunately, not nearly as funny.
In theory, the 700 million barrels of crude oil we’ve got sitting in a series of caverns in Texas and Louisiana is supposed to provide at least ninety days’ worth of net imports. We’re not