Who doesn’t want to pay less at the pump? Although the role of government intervention in gas prices can be debated, no one wants to pay nearly $4 per gallon for gas. President Barack Obama and the International Energy Agency are trying to lower the high price of gas, but their decision to release oil reserves creates a danger that the bar for accessing the reserve supply will become too low.

Last week, the president joined with the International Energy Agency and several other European and Asian countries to release a total of 60 million barrels.

Republicans and OPEC have expressed outrage with the decision and many have questioned the timing of the release. The Republicans argue that Obama tapped the reserves only as a political move to gain popularity. OPEC claims that there was no reason for the release as the market currently has more than enough supply. But, for American consumers, the timing couldn’t be better. More people travel by car in the summer, driving gasoline prices higher.

Though the oil reserves are supposed to be accessed only in times of emergency, neither the United States nor the International Energy Agency has defined exactly what an emergency is.

Instead of criticizing President Obama for lowering gas prices for American consumers, we should ask the International Energy Agency to redefine the term “emergency,” so there are fewer disputes over such a release in the future.

— The Oregonian, Portland, July 5


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