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Republican News

Chairman Convenes Hearing to Examine Modernization Options for Strategic Asset

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today underscored the importance of maintaining the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The hearing focused on options to modernize the security asset to ensure its future operational effectiveness. 

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“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve remains critical to our nation’s energy security. It is an incredibly important asset. It is an insurance policy. And it is a source of leverage and stability for the United States,” Murkowski said. “While we have incredible oil production at home at the moment, we must be vigilant – OPEC’s spare capacity has fallen, unplanned production outages persist in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere, and further trouble always seems to lurk just over the horizon.”

There have been various calls to modernize the SPR in response to changes in the United States’ energy outlook, including rising domestic oil production and falling imports. Along with talk of adjusting the size and composition of the reserve, there has also been a movement in Congress to sell off a portion of the SPR to pay for other, non-energy related priorities.

Murkowski, chairman of the energy committee, at Tuesday’s hearing reiterated her opposition to selling off oil from the SPR to pay for unrelated legislation, and she pressed Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on his commitment to maintaining the reserve as a strategic asset.

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“I believe it’s premature to be selling off portions of the reserve before we know the full impacts such a sale could have on our energy security,” Murkowski said. “I believe looking at the reserve as nothing more than an ATM is wrong and irresponsible.”

The United States is required by international agreement to maintain a stockpile of energy reserves capable of meeting at least 90 days of oil imports. The four storage sites that make up the SPR currently hold 694 million barrels of oil.

In July, Murkowski released a report highlighting the importance of the petroleum stockpile to U.S. energy security. The report detailed how a proposed sale of SPR oil to pay for unrelated legislative priorities could impact the reserve’s ability to respond to a serious supply disruption.

Murkowski, who toured an SPR storage site in Louisiana earlier this year, said Congress needs to invest in the reserve and the pipelines and other infrastructure that support it to make sure it is there when needed.    

“The SPR is an important national security asset that must be maintained in case of future supply disruptions,” she said. “Ensuring its operational effectiveness should be our first priority.”