Focus Point - The Oil Non-Emergency

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The Clinton administration's decision to open the spigot on the emergency oil reserves is pure politics designed to give Al Gore a boost in the election season. That's the only way to read it, because it sure doesn't have anything to do with energy policy, and most energy experts agree.

For openers, oil refineries are already running at almost 100 percent capacity, so a sudden artificial gusher isn't going to have anyplace to go anyway. We haven't built refineries since the 1970s, largely because of the billions oil refiners have had to spend to keep up with federal regulations. And as some experts have noted, the reserves aren't designed for constant inflow and outflow, so they'd be structurally weakened by this scheme.

But remember, this is politics, not energy. The strategic oil reserve is there for emergencies. You know, war. Cataclysm. Natural disaster. Not Al Gore's need for a boost in the polls. But that's all it is, and even states facing potential shortages shouldn't be fooled that it's anything else.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, drugged policy.