February 14, 2003
When Congress last night passed the FY03 spending package, three energy-related items were included: five-year reauthorization of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, five-year reauthorization of the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve and five-year reauthorization of U.S. participation in the International Energy Agency. (Sen. Bingaman sponsored the amendment that did all three of these things.) After President Bush signs this bill into law, these programs will be able to spend money which already has been authorized, allowing for an orderly and coordinated draw-down of crude oil and home heating oil stocks in the event of a severe supply disruption. That's a good thing. With oil prices nearing a 10-year high, U.S. crude inventories nearing an all-time low, and the threat of war looming heavy, these programs will help our nation meet any future energy threat. The FY03 approps bill is the biggest such bill ever, and it's not easy to tell what's in it. Although the same cannot be said for everything in this spending package, including these energy items was the responsible thing to do.