(CNSNews.com) - Draining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the hopes of bringing down oil and gas prices "would put America in a dangerous position in the war on terror" -- and that's why President Bush won't do it, he said on Wednesday.
"We will not play politics with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," the president told reporters at the White House. "That petroleum reserve is in place in case of major disruptions of energy supplies in the United States."
President Bush said the American people "face a determined enemy," and he said that draining the petroleum reserve would put the U.S. "in a worse position" in the war.
Asked what short-term steps he can take to alleviate the high energy costs, President Bush said things could be different -- if Congress had given him what he wanted:
"If people had acted on my energy bill when I submitted it three years ago, we would be in a much better situation today," President Bush said. He said he anticipated an oil price spike three years ago, when he sent Congress a plan that would make the United States less dependent on foreign oil. But Congress did nothing, he said -- and now some lawmakers "want to have it both ways."
"On the one hand, they decry the price at the pump," Bush said; "and on the other hand, they won't do anything about it...Congress needs to pass the energy plan."
President Bush said if Congress hadn't vetoed his plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, it might have had a "positive impact for today's consumers."
Contrary to what Democrats are saying, President Bush said he is concerned about high gasoline prices -- "I fully understand how that affects American consumers and how it crimps the budgets of moms and dads who are trying to provide for their families -- how it affects the truck driver -- how it affects the small business owner."
Democrats, including Sen. John F. Kerry, have made record-high gasoline prices a campaign issue this week, blaming President Bush's policies for high prices at the pump.
Some Democrats want the Bush administration to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to boost the domestic supply of oil. Sen. Kerry has suggested that the U.S. stop filling the reserve at current high prices.