WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- There are no oil market disruptions that would require a release from strategic petroleum reserves in the United States, a Democratic leader said.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., broke rank with fellow Democrats by saying tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is needed only when oil supplies are disrupted.
"There are no lines at the gas tanks anywhere in the country as far as I know," he was quoted by CNN as saying.
U.S. retail gasoline prices are spiking as tensions with oil-rich Iran escalate. Tehran pre-empted its European counterparts by blocking crude oil deliveries to the United Kingdom and France after European leaders called for an embargo by July 1.
Republican critics of U.S. President Barack Obama said his domestic energy policies were in part to blame for high gasoline prices. Hoyer, however, said "speculation and fear" were likely the driving factors behind higher energy prices.
Three Democrats in the House of Representatives last week called on Obama to tap strategic reserves to lower gasoline prices.
The International Energy Agency last year called on member states to release oil from strategic reserves to offset market disruptions brought on by the war in Libya.