US considers tapping oil reserves to ease soaring prices

As pressure mounts on Obama to cool prices that have risen since Libya unrest, White House Chief of Staff says "all matters must be on the table."

Obama and Bill Daley 311 Reuters (photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
Obama and Bill Daley 311 Reuters
(photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
WASHINGTON - White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said on Sunday the Obama administration is considering tapping into the US strategic oil reserve as one way to help ease soaring oil prices.
Speaking on NBC television's "Meet the Press," Daley said: "We are looking at the options. The issue of the reserves is one we are considering. ... All matters have to be on the table."
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There has been support among Senate Democrats for tapping the reserves. Senator Jay Rockefeller on Thursday became the third Democrat to ask President Barack Obama to tap America's emergency oil supply to cool prices that have risen past $100 a barrel due to the strife in Libya.
In a letter to Obama, Rockefeller said a "limited draw-down" from the nation's 727-million-barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve "can protect our national security by preventing or reducing the adverse impact of an oil shortage."
On Wednesday, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu ruled out releasing oil from the reserve, saying ramped up oil production in Saudi Arabia should lower the crude price.
"That's going to mitigate the price increase," he told reporters on Wednesday. "We're hoping market forces will take care of this."
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Thursday the United States and other major economies could tap strategic reserves to keep oil prices from derailing a global recovery.
Geithner said high food and oil prices were causing hardships in many parts of the world. But he said Americans were feeling less impact.