The following editorial first appeared in the Kansas City Star:
Prices at the pump have jumped above $3.30 a gallon in Kansas City and raced past $4 a gallon in California. Right on schedule, here comes a bad idea out of Washington: Drain oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Some congressional representatives are backing the idea because they know it will appeal to many Americans who are used to cheap oil and tooling down the road in SUVs.
President Barack Obama is said to be considering draining some of the 726-million barrel reserve.
Keep mulling, Mr. President. Just don’t do it.
Boosting supplies this way would not significantly drive down fuel prices. It would not be feasible over more than several months. Most worrisome, it would leave the nation less prepared if a true disaster struck, such as a domestic terrorist attack or a severe drop in oil imports.
There’s no such major disruption going on right now. Gasoline prices have soared because of production problems in war-torn Libya and because many traders want to lock in higher returns for petroleum to sell down the road.
The real answers to tamping down oil prices are the same as they have been for decades: conserve gasoline by driving less, get around in more fuel-efficient vehicles and invest in alternative energies to replace gasoline.
Unfortunately, this country under the leadership of Democrats and Republicans alike has left weak fuel efficiency laws in place for years and given out puny subsidies for developing other kinds of energy.
Obama should resist the temptation to release part of the reserve to temporarily and slightly lower fuel prices for a nation that — once again — has done a poor job planning for these kinds of crises.
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