House Dems to Obama: Be ready to tap emergency oil reserves

Oil prices have soared amid threats by Iran to halt oil shipments. Gas prices are also on the rise. The average gallon of gas cost about $3.58 on Wednesday, according to AAA — that's up from this time last month ($3.38 per gallon) and this time last year ($3.17 per gallon).

The White House approved the release of 30 million barrels of oil from the SPR last summer to combat supply losses from Libya that officials said were threatening the economic recovery.

The GOP roundly criticized the president for releasing SPR oil last year, arguing it was a ploy to score political points amid high gas prices.

Press secretary Jay Carney said last week that the administration won’t rule out tapping the reserve again.

“We never take options off the table, but I have nothing — no announcements to make or anything like that,” Carney said.

Emergency sales of oil from the reserve are rare and have occurred in 1991 at the outset of Operation Desert Storm and again in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hobbled the Gulf’s refining sector.

Republicans are pummeling Obama over high gas prices, taking aim at his energy policies and calling for a dramatic expansion of domestic oil-and-gas drilling.

The president will tout his energy record Thursday during a speech at the University of Miami.