Imagine a huge, multibillion dollar federal project, still growing more than a decade after it officially opened, that wins a national prize for its design and construction amid praise from policymakers, engineers, and economists.
Is it real? Yes—It is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), 545 million barrels of oil, nearly $10 billion worth at current prices, placed in excavated salt domes in Louisiana and Texas. The SPR has been managed by the Department of Energy (DOE) since it was legislated into existence by Congress in 1975. In the wake of the energy crisis of the early 1970s, the need was recognized for a shortterm supply of crude oil, purchased from abroad by the federal government, to function as an emergency supply during times of political instability, when worldwide flow of oil might be shut off. It has had the support of every President since its inception, with the original goal of 1 billion barrels in reserve evolving into the current target of 750 million barrels set by the Reagan administration.