While still abroad for his first foreign trip as president, the presence of Donald Trump remains active in the comings and goings happening on U.S. soil. New allegations have surfaced claiming he tried to pressure intelligence chiefs to push back against James Comey’s Russia investigation publicly, while a sinkhole in front of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida piqued everyone’s interest. And then there’s the matter of his administration’s plan to curb the national debt via highly controversial budget cuts. According to a new report, the White House proposal also involves oil, and lots of it.
Bloomberg reports the Trump administration’s first complete budget proposal, which was released partially on Monday, hopes to raise $500 million in the 2018 fiscal year by selling off half of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve housed in Louisiana and Florida. The proposal also suggests these oil sales would generate up to $16.6 billion for the country over the next decade, arguing these funds would help make a dent in the total gross national debt, which currently stands at $19.8 trillion.
According to the Energy Department’s website, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve currently holds 687.7 million barrels of oil, and maintains enough additional retaining capacity to hold a total of 713.5 million barrels. As Bloomberg notes, these “strategic” reserves are designed for emergency situations — natural disasters, catastrophic accidents, and unforeseen shortages — and quick distribution when necessary. And while selling something designated for such things may seem foolish, Trump’s proposal isn’t the first time oil sales like these have been suggested and approved by Congress, which will likely oppose certain aspects of it.
Yet the White House’s plan to sell off half of the 687.7 million barrels stored in Louisiana and Texas is one of the largest of such proposals. It’s also not the only part of the Trump administration’s budget, which Bloomberg reports will also allow for oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, the site of an ongoing battle between business interests and environmentalists for over 30 years. President George W. Bush famously called for an end to offshore drilling in the area in 2008, whereas Barack Obama closed out his presidency with a recommendation to preserve the area. Considering the Trump administration’s ties to oil (and similar proposals), it appears his White House has more in common with Bush’s than Obama’s.