Earlier this month, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPRo) should not be used to lower gas prices. Today, President Bush announced he’s going to stop filling the SPRo to lower prices, calling it a way to show “we’re serious” about reducing the cost of gas. Watch the two clips back-to-back:
SMITH: What about tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? Is that a possibility?
BODMAN: Well, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is there if we have an interruption in supply, and that’s not the issue here today. The issue is the inability of suppliers to keep up with rising demand. And so, this is something we have, really the SPRo, as we call it, is something that’s there for emergency purposes if we an interruption, if we have an explosion or terrorist act of some kind that interrupts supply. [4/11/06]
BUSH: One way to ease price is to increase supply. One immediate way we can signal to people we’re serious about increasing supply is to stop making purchases or deposits to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for a short period of time. I’ve directed the Department of Energy to defer filling the reserve this summer. Our strategic reserve is sufficiently large enough to guard against any major supply disruption over the next few months. So by deferring deposits until the fall, we’ll leave a little more oil on the market. Every little bit helps.
[Correction: An earlier version of this post said Bodman’s comments were made last week. They were actually made two weeks ago.]