WASHINGTON May 22 U.S. President Donald Trump's
White House would sell half of the nation's emergency oil
stockpile and open the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to
drilling as part of a plan to balance the budget over the next
10 years, documents released by the administration on Monday
The White House budget, which will be delivered to Congress
on Tuesday, is meant as a proposal and may not take effect in
its current form. But it reveals the administration's policy
hopes, which include ramping up American energy output.
The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the world's largest,
holds about 688 million barrels of crude oil in heavily guarded
underground caverns in Louisiana and Texas. Congress created it
in 1975 after the Arab oil embargo caused fears of long-term
motor fuel price spikes that would harm the U.S. economy.
The Trump budget proposes to start selling SPR oil in fiscal
year 2018, which begins on Oct. 1, with sales that would
generate $500 million, according to the documents. The sales
from the reserve would gradually rise over the following years,
peaking at nearly $3.9 billion in 2027, and totaling nearly
$16.6 billion from 2018 to 2027.
Past SPR sales have sometimes caused crude oil futures
prices to drop by adding to available supply. In this
case, that would work against Trump's efforts to revive the
downtrodden oil and gas drilling industries.
U.S. crude oil prices on Monday settled at $50.73 a barrel,
a relatively low level that has limited energy company profits.
The Trump budget would also seek to raise $1.8 billion over
the coming decade by leasing oil in the Arctic National Wildlife
Reserve, the largest protected wilderness in the United States,
believed to hold rich reserves of crude.
U.S. politicians have been debating whether to open the
reserve in northeastern Alaska to drilling since the 1970s, with
opponents citing the risk of spills and the contribution to
global climate change.
Trump has already moved to expand U.S. offshore drilling,
including in parts of the Arctic, as part of his broader effort
to support the oil and gas industries. He has also moved to trim
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including by
proposing a more than 30 percent cut to its funding.
Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and
Budget, told reporters on Monday that the overall budget
proposal was part of an effort to help the U.S. economy grow at
a rate of 3 percent a year.
"It drives our tax reform policy, our regulatory policy,
trade, energy ... everything is keyed toward getting us back to
3 percent," he said.
The White House did not immediately respond to questions
about the energy-related budget proposals.
Trump's budget would also restart a nuclear waste fund that
would bring in more than $3 billion by 2027.
The Obama administration stopped charging nuclear energy
utilities the fee in 2014 after it stopped the licensing process
for Nevada's Yucca Mountain - a waste dump that cost the
government billions of dollars but never opened.
The Trump administration proposed reviving Yucca in details
of the budget released in March.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; editing by Richard Valdmanis and