Editorial: Waiting on oil ‘strategery’

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, July 5, 2011

President Obama’s administration didn’t actually use the infamous non-word “strategery” in announcing last month that the United States would release 30 million barrels of oil from the country’s strategic reserve in an attempt to further reduce oil prices. But for all the sense the release makes, they might as well have called it “strategery.”

Beyond the fact that the timing made little sense — oil prices spiked months ago when the Libyan supply chain was disrupted and have recently been falling on their own — the decision to spend precious reserves simply highlights the failure of Obama and Congress to develop a coherent national energy policy, or even to put proposals on the table for such a policy.

Until the United States has a clear plan for how it will do what most agree is essential — reduce our dependence on foreign oil and, eventually, on all oil because it is a non-renewable resource — decisions like last week’s draw-down of reserves will continue to muddy the energy waters. After all, if a petroleum reserve is needed, shouldn’t it be held in reserve for emergencies, rather than expended to control prices that are already under control?

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No doubt there is some political gain to be made from “doing something” about oil prices. But we’re past the point where short-term political gain should trump the need for a real, even if unpopular, plan.