Senators push to protect oil reserve money

Senators push to protect oil reserve money
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The top senators on energy are fighting efforts to sell oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to fund unrelated programs.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Klobuchar, Murkowski introduce legislation to protect consumer health data MORE (R-Alaska), chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, visited a site that holds part of the federal oil reserve on July 17 to underscore her opposition to raiding the SPR and support for improvements to the program.

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“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a vital national security asset. We must ensure that it’s capable of moving oil to where it’s needed in case of supply disruptions,” she said after the Louisiana visit.

“Any potential revenue raised through the ‘rightsizing’ of the SPR should be used to improve our nation’s energy security,” she continued. “Ensuring the operational effectiveness of the reserve should be our first priority.”

Murkowski’s visit and statement came as lawmakers consider selling some of the 691 million-barrel crude oil stockpile to pay for highway infrastructure. The House recently voted to sell oil from the reserve to pay for its 21st Century Cures legislation.

Chris Smith, who oversees the reserve as the Energy Department’s assistant secretary for fossil energy, accompanied Murkowski on his trip.

The visit also came as Obama administration officials call attention to problems they foresee in dispatching oil from the reserve if it is ever needed.

Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: Democratic state AGs sue to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger | House kicks off tech antitrust probe | Maine law shakes up privacy debate | Senators ask McConnell to bring net neutrality to a vote Hillicon Valley: Democratic state AGs sue to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger | House kicks off tech antitrust probe | Maine law shakes up privacy debate | Senators ask McConnell to bring net neutrality to a vote Senators call on McConnell to bring net neutrality rules to a vote MORE (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on Murkowski’s panel, agrees with her.

“The SPR is currently our most important federal energy security asset,” said Rosemarie Calabro Tully, Cantwell’s spokeswoman.

“The Quadrennial Energy Review includes an analysis of the energy security value of the SPR in modern global oil markets, examining ways to ensure that we maximize its energy security value for the American taxpayer,” she added, referring to the Energy Department’s recent report on infrastructure challenges. “Rather than raiding the SPR, we must modernize it.”

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has expressed a similar opinion, telling the Senate recently that he has “considerable concern” about selling the oil for purposes other than energy security and resilience.

The stockpile was established in the 1970s to protect the United States from oil supply disruptions.