President Obama said on Friday that the U.S. is prepared to tap the United States' petroleum reserves as the cost of oil soars, but he did not say what conditions would trigger the move.
"Everybody should know that should the situation demand it, we are prepared to tap the stockpile of oil we have in our petroleum reserve," Obama said. "The global community can manage a supply disruption like this."
Political protests across the Middle East have sent the price of oil soaring to more than $106 a barrel in the last couple weeks. But Obama played down the price fluctuation, saying "of course rising [oil] prices are not a new phenomenon."
He said his payroll tax cut — which added roughly $80 a month to the average paycheck this year — should "help act as a cushion for working families... who feel the pinch every time they fill up the tank."
Obama also insisted that the volatile oil markets would not derail the nascent economic recovery in the U.S. He used the price spike to support his campaign for weening the U.S. off of oil and investing in more clean energy.
"If we want to secure long-term [energy stability]... we must gradually reduce demand and then do everything we can to break our dependence on oil," he said.