Even though the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is available to lessen any supply disruptions and stabilize the oil market in an emergency, it does not change the fact that we as Americans are dependent on oil. Until we start to utilize alternative renewable energy sources, we will still be at the whim of foreign countries who control most of the oil in the world. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve serves as a safety net, but oil is a finite resource which will eventually be gone. When that happens, not even all of the oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be able to avert an energy crisis for long.
What is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, also called the SPR or strategic oil reserve? This reserve is an emergency supply of oil that the government has purchased, as an inventory to guarantee adequate oil during times when supply is disrupted. The strategic oil reserve holds more than seven hundred million barrels of crude oil, and is the largest emergency stockpile of crude oil in the world. Where does the federal government store all of these barrels though? The oil stocks which are part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are stored along the Gulf of Mexico coastline, in salt caverns which are deep underground and are enormous in size. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act authorizes the President of the United States to withdraw crude oil from the inventory of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Many presidents and advisors have discussed the need for a Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the past. In the year 1944, the Secretary of the Interior, a man by the name of Harold Ickes, advised that there needed to be an emergency stockpile of crude oil. The Minerals Policy Commission under President Harry Truman also advised a federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This idea was also advocated by President Eisenhower in the year 1956, after the Suez Crisis had occurred, and again in 1970 by the Cabinet Task Force on Oil Import Control. Up until the year 1975 though, it was simply talk, and no steps were taken to implement a federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Action was taken in 1975 by President Gerald Ford, when the Energy Policy and Conservation Act was signed, and this act set up the process to implement the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve came into being in a large part due to the oil embargo that occurred in 1973 and 1974. During these two years, many Middle East nations cut off the oil supply to America. During this time period, oil from Arab nations accounted for half of the oil imports coming into America, and the embargo had devastating effects on the country. This is what prompted President Ford to take action.
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