Earlier Thursday, the White House announced its decision to release 30 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, half the estimated 60 million barrels that the International Energy Agency announced would soon flood the markets.
The White House in a statement says this unusual move is necessary to replace lost output due to the war in Libya, which has shut down most of the country's oil fields.
Continue Reading Below
But what about unlocking the nations energy resources?
"If President Obama really wanted to lower gas prices he could by opening up access to our nations resources, this action today is like putting a band-aid on a broken arm," said Heritage energy and environmental policy Analyst Nick Loris.
That move could also create desperately needed U.S. jobs.
The move to tap the SPR has raised eyebrows among oil analysts, and not just because oil was already trending down.
The Dept. of Energy said Thursday that the "average retail price of regular gasoline fell for the sixth consecutive week, dropping six cents to hit $3.65 per gallon."
However, the DOE also projects gas will stick at that same price, including taxes, for the fourth quarter of 2012, right after the election.
That's more than double the $1.78 average cost per gallon nationwide in January 2009, when President Obama took office.
Is tapping the SPR a knee-jerk move by the Administration to literally buy economic growth as approval numbers are dropping and the economy has is flat-lining?
Heritage's Loris also points out in a statement that not only will the move do little to bring down gas prices, it also puts our nations security at risk.
Loris says: "The SPR exists for moments of national crisis when there is a dramatic disruption in oil supplies. The current high prices at the pump are a national concernbut playing politics with a national security asset won't solve this problem."
Oil prices did drop dramatically on the announcement of 60 million more barrels hitting the market. The White House defended the SPR move, saying the conflict in Libya has so far removed 140 million barrels of oil from the market, versus an estimated 38 million lost after Hurricane Katrina, when the U.S. tapped the SPR.
But analysts note that prices could bungee cord back up, as talk is Saudi Arabia's spare cushion is sour and heavy, and that only a handful of countries have supply cushions. Gregor Macdonald (no relation), a top oil analyst, makes note of that, and adds that "non-Opec producers, accounting for 57% of total global supply, have no spare capacity."
Which is why the neither the IEA or OECD didn't ask them to pump more.
Heritage foreign policy expert James Carafano and Loris have noted:
" "The SPR exists for moments of national crisis. While high gas prices are certainly a national concern, playing politics with a national security asset is not the right way to tackle the issue. A mere rise in price is not what the reserve was meant to address." " "Heritage recommends increasing access to oil reserves in the U.S. both onshore and offshore. This action would not only help offset rising demand and increase jobs, but it would also stimulate the economy. Moreover, this will help improve the nations strategic position vis-�-vis oil-exporting countries. An action that would strengthen our national security rather than play politics with a vital national asset as some in Washington are doing."