PICKERING SEEKS EXPANSION OF SPR
Monday, Congressman Chip Pickering cosponsored new legislation (HR2396) to authorize the expansion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) by half-a-billion barrels. Pickering, who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, joined in introducing the legislation with Joe Barton, Nick Lampson, and the bill's author Ralph Hall, all of Texas. Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran introduced companion legislation (S1435) in the Senate. Senator Trent Lott is a cosponsor of the legislation.
"The expansion of the strategic petroleum reserve increases our nation's energy security, protects our economy from foreign disruptions, and allows us to meet our international responsibilities," Pickering said.
In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act authorizing the expansion of the SPR from 727 million to 1 billion barrel capacity. This new legislation supports President George W. Bush's January 2007 State of the Union address request to increase that level to 1.5 billion barrel capacity. The current capacity of 727 million barrels represents 56 days of net imports. The United States' International Energy Agency (IEA) treaty requires it to maintain the equivalent of 90 days of net petroleum imports.
Pickering said, "That new facilities to be constructed in Richton will play a critical role in protecting this higher capacity." The Energy Policy Act of 2005 included the Pickering Strategic Petroleum Reserve Amendment that directed the Department of Energy to select one or more new sites to create additional SPR facilities. Earlier this year, the Department of Energy designated the Richton salt domes as its preferred site for a new 160 million-barrel SPR facility.
Monday, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said, "I commend Senator Thad Cochran and Congressmen Ralph Hall, Joe Barton, Nick Lampson, and Chip Pickering for introducing legislation today to increase the capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to 1.5 billion barrels. This will further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply by increasing the Reserve over the next 20 years to hold over three months of net import protection. Expanding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will ensure adequate supplies of fuel to citizens across the country in case of supply disruption. In his State of the Union Address earlier this year, President Bush called on Congress to double the Reserve's current capacity. I urge Congress to pass this legislation quickly to further bolster our nation's energy security." Bodman visited the University of Southern Mississippi in February to sign a Record of Decision designating the Richton site as the preferred site at a ceremony with Governor Haley Barbour.
The expansion of the strategic petroleum reserve is part of the United States national security and energy security policy and is not expected to affect commercial gasoline or energy consumption prices.