Chaffetz: We Have to Solve Our Energy Problem

Utah congressman on tapping strategic oil reserve


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Well, oil prices taking a tumble after that tap. Look at that, off more than $4 a barrel today. We’re just north of $91 a barrel on news that the president tapped the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

But prices already were headed down, so Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz is wondering, what is up?

Congressman, you don’t like this. Why not?

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ , R-UTAH: No. Our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is there for a natural disaster or some other catastrophe.

I recognize that the president is having a political catastrophe going into the Fourth of July weekend and the high oil prices or high gas prices, but this is not the way to use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, absolutely not.

CAVUTO: All right.

I can see your point, but I can see his point as well. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that I don’t think it was a political move, because, actually, he had telegraphed that he might do this.

And if you want to surprise the markets, you do it when the prices are declining, and you fear down the road, there might be an imminent supply disruption, as apparently a number of energy officials did. So what better time to do it than now, ahead of what could be the crisis that you envision?

What do you say?

CHAFFETZ: Well, we only have about 727 million barrels that are there in our reserve. We’re going to take out 30 million barrels. That’s not going to solve the problem.

There are those of us that believe that we really, truly want to solve the problem, that we consume more than we produce. And there are those of us that believe if you truly want to try drive down the cost of gas, if you really want to solve the problem, then you should be pursuing the extraction of our resources that are right here at home, alternative energy and traditional.

CAVUTO: No, I agree. Congressman, I agree with you on that, tapping more of our energy here.


CAVUTO: But could you do them in tandem? In other words, you know how the markets work. Oil is a tradable commodity. Some people have an even more jaded view than that -- a fixed commodity. But, again, I’ll leave that aside -- and that the markets pounced on this as a sign, hey, wait a minute, the president might do this again, and he might do this again, and that he’s getting his wish, lower prices.

CHAFFETZ: No, it’s a temporary Band-Aid.

Look, when your economy is subject to the whims of Libya and Nigeria and Venezuela, you have a problem. And we’ve got to solve that problem. And that’s what I -- that’s my bigger point, is, OK, you -- maybe a two- week Band-Aid.

CAVUTO: Right.

CHAFFETZ: But we’ve got to solve this long term, create some stability in the market.

I recognize that the refineries in Europe that are having some problems -- we have got the situation in Libya, but what if we actually had a real disaster? We don’t have that much oil on reserve. It is a 90- to 100-day supply. That’s just not adequate.

CAVUTO: So, what would be a disaster for you?

CHAFFETZ: Well, if there was some sort of earthquake or hurricane.

CAVUTO: Right.

CHAFFETZ: Katrina certainly fell into that category. That’s what it is there for. It’s not to -- for the president, before Fourth of July, to help lower the price of gas a few pennies on the way out the door. That’s not a responsible way to address this.

CAVUTO: Real quickly, I heard from your colleague, Democratic colleague Clyburn, the Democrat, said that, look, tax hikes have to be on the table in these talks.

You say what?

CHAFFETZ: This is not a time to be raising taxes.

I think we put forward, for instance, our cut, cap and balance plan that many of us conservatives have signed on to. That’s a responsible way to go. We need the president to step up and suggest this is what I want to do.

That has yet to happen. But, certainly, this is no time to be raising taxes. That is ridiculous.

CAVUTO: You still sleeping in your office?

CHAFFETZ: I do. I do, yes.


CAVUTO: Oh, man.

CHAFFETZ: That’s how I save some money, yes, yes.

CAVUTO: All right. Do you sleep well?

CHAFFETZ: The trick is to be – you’ve got to be tired enough.


CHAFFETZ: But I’m 6’2’’, and the cot is about 6 feet. So you can do that math.

CAVUTO: Yes. You can turn on CNN and go night-night.

All right.


CAVUTO: Always good having you, Congressman. Thank you very, very much.

CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Neil.

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