Frankly, you shouldn't care.
Despite the high-fives senators (like our own Russ Feingold, see press release below) are giving themselves, this move will accomplish nothing. Releasing for sale the 70,000 barrels a day that would have gone underground won't make much difference to the nation's supply -- we use some 20 million barrels a day -- and therefore, despite what the bipartisan Senate vote would have you believe, won't make any appreciable difference in the price at the pump. None that you'll notice, anyway. (If the Gasoline Fairy waves her magic wand and transforms every bit of this frog into a price reduction, it will create a saving of less than two cents per gallon.)
Sorta like the federal gas tax "holiday" pushed by Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain, and our own Rep. Paul Ryan. Eighteen-point-four cents per gallon. Mama, let's drive to California!
The vote is an example of economic naivete: It suspends pumping into the 700 million barrel strategic reserve until the price of oil falls below $75 a barrel. So, it's likely not to be very temporary at all. Hell may freeze over first... assuming the House goes along, and President Bush doesn't veto it, as he's threatened to do. (The one senator who voted with the White House in this election year was Sen. Wayne Allard, R-CO, who's not running for re-election.)
Anyway, now that you know the facts, here's Feingold's take:
FEINGOLD PRAISES SENATE EFFORT TO LOWER GAS PRICES
By Suspending Deposits into the Nearly-Full Strategic Petroleum Reserve, More Oil Will Be Available in the Marketplace to Help Bring Down Gas Prices
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate passed a measure co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) that will help lower gas prices that have reached all-time highs. The Senate passed a Feingold-backed initiative to suspend the filling of the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) that was originally created to provide relief when oil and gasoline supply shortages caused economic hardships. While the average price of gas approaches four dollars per gallon in Wisconsin and across the country, the administration continues to divert oil into the SPR, pitting the government against the American consumer by taking more oil off the market and driving up the price of gas.
“I am pleased the Senate has taken a common-sense step toward easing the burden Americans are feeling at the gas pump by making more oil available in the marketplace,” Feingold said. “This move is not a cure-all but it should provide some relief without jeopardizing our oil reserves.”
The Senate also blocked an effort that would have endangered the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by allowing drilling in the pristine Alaskan wilderness. Feingold has been a Senate leader in opposing drilling in the Refuge and has led efforts in the Senate to prevent it. To help protect the Refuge, Feingold is a cosponsor of a bill that would designate the Refuge’s coastal plain as a federal wilderness area.
“Drilling in the Arctic Refuge would sacrifice one of America’s greatest natural treasures for a supply of oil that would not do anything to significantly enhance our energy security,” Feingold said. “The Senate has rejected efforts to drill in the Arctic Refuge time after time. It is time to move past this divisive debate and develop a new energy strategy that will protect our national security, economy, and environment.”