"President Barack Obama has chosen a curious moment to release 30 million barrels of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The president initially justified the release as protection against disruptions in supply caused by the conflict in Libya. Later, the administration changed the explanation, saying Obama hopes to stabilize gasoline prices going into the summer vacation driving season. Libya is an important source of oil. But the fighting there has not had a major impact on supplies. And oil prices have fallen back in recent weeks from their yearly highs. ... As we've said when previous presidents considered using the reserve to influence short-term prices, that's not what the stockpile is there for. The reserve is designed to shield the American economy from dramatic disruptions in the oil supply. Such a major cutoff hasn't happened. Using the reserve to manipulate market prices is a futile enterprise. ... The president's decision to release oil reserves, coming at a time when his approval rating is sinking, opens him to criticism that his re-election campaign is driving his economic and energy decisions. He can claim credit for future declines in gasoline prices that may have occurred naturally. If the priority of the administration is now to keep gasoline cheap, it should also drop its opposition to increased domestic oil production, which would have a larger impact on long-term oil prices than would tapping into the reserve. Likewise, that goal should also inform its current considerations of sharply higher fuel economy standards for the automotive fleet. ... In any case, the release of the oil reserves in response to fluctuations in the market is not sound policy."
The Detroit News