Lawmakers are pushing legislation that could result in the selling off of 266 million barrels of oil from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) over the next decade, mostly to fund more government spending.
Legislation for health care, highway funding and financing the government could end up drawing on down on oil supplies meant for emergency situations. If all three bills are signed into law, some 266 million barrels, or nearly 40 percent, of the current 695 million barrel SPR would be sold off in the next decade to raise about $23 billion.
“The 114th Congress has introduced three separate bills that would fund non-energy policy goals by mandating crude oil sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” according to an analysis by the consulting firm ClearView Energy.
ClearView noted the health care bill, called the 21st Century Cures Act, was the least likely to hit President Barack Obama’s desk despite passing out of the House with a veto-proof majority. On the other hand, the two other bills passing a budget and funding highways are more pressing issues to Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Just those two bills alone would draw down on 186 million barrels.
“Elected officials could face grave political penalties for failing to raise the debt ceiling or fund highway construction, but voters aren’t likely to notice the absence of [200 million barrels] of crude oil from salt caverns they can’t see,” ClearView noted.