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Obama for tapping U.S. oil preserve

From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
On a conference call this morning, Obama energy advisers Elgie Holstein and Heather Zichal discussed the plan Obama will discuss today, including supporting the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Specifically, the campaign calls it a swapping out of light crude for heavy crude, which they say will be replaced when the market is less volatile.

Asked if this is a reversal, adviser Zichal says: "Sen. Obama has looked at this issue. He recognizes that Americans are suffering, that we have a unique situation with rising gas prices. And this is one occasion where we really need to look at this strategically and he made the decision that we do need to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve."

The other new parts of the plan, per the campaign:

- He'll announce a goal of putting one million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015. These are cars capable of getting 150 miles to the gallon. This will be paired with a $7,000 tax credit for the purchase of these vehicles.

- He'll announce a "major commitment" to helping the auto industry build new factories or renovate existing ones to retool for the production of these new generation vehicles.

*** UPDATE *** As Republicans point out, Obama was against tapping the preserve just earlier this month. "I do not believe that we should use the strategic oil reserves at this point," Obama said July 7. "I have said and, in fact, supported a congressional resolution that said that we should suspend putting more oil into the strategic oil reserve, but the strategic oil reserve, I think, has to be reserved for a genuine emergency. You have a situation, let's say, where there was a major oil facility in Saudi Arabia that was destroyed as a consequence of terrorist acts, and you suddenly had huge amounts of oil taken out of the world market, we wouldn't just be seeing $4-a-gallon oil. We could see a situation where entire sectors of the country had no oil to function at all. And that's what the strategic oil reserve has to be for." (See video here.)