Oregon’s freshman democratic senator, Jeff Merkley, joined five of his colleagues, including California Senator Barbara Boxer, in a call to President Obama to release a small portion of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves to combat near-record high oil prices that climbed to nearly $100 per barrel this week in the face of the Libyan crisis. Merkley and his counterparts suggested that proceeds from any sale be put toward the development of electric cars and the federal government’s goal of getting one million such vehicles on the road by 2015. They also suggested that money could be put toward other “clean-energy” programs.
The nation’s strategic oil reserves currently stands at 727 million barrels and is at capacity. The Department of Energy has already proposed a non-emergency sell off of roughly $500 million worth reserves in its draft 2012 budget. That would equate to roughly 5.1 million barrels according to the Center for American Progress, which last week floated the idea of non-emergency sell off to combat high oil prices and to spur investment in renewable energy.