Biden to release 50M barrels from strategic oil reserve

November 23, 2021
The price for grades of gasoline are listed outside a Conoco station Nov. 5 in Denver.
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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is releasing 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower prices amid a recent spike in gas prices and soaring inflation, the White House announced Tuesday.

Thirty-two million barrels released by the Department of Energy will be an exchange over the next several months, oil that will eventually return to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the years ahead. Another 18 million barrels will be released incoming months, accelerating a sale of oil that Congress had previously authorized.

“American consumers are feeling the impact of elevated gas prices at the pump and in their home heating bills, and American businesses are, too, because oil supply has not kept up with demand as the global economy emerges from the pandemic,” the White House said in a statement early Tuesday.

“That’s why President Biden is using every tool available to him to work to lower prices and address the lack of supply.”

The release of oil from the nation’s stockpile will be taken in parallel with other countries, including China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom.

More:Is ‘illegal conduct’ the reason for rising gas prices? Biden urges regulators to find out

Inflation, energy prices have risen steadily

Biden has been under mounting political pressure to provide Americans relief from higher gas prices and to take steps to tame inflation, which last month hit a 31-year high. Republicans have blamed Biden’s policies for the increased cost of consumer goods, including energy prices, while Democrats have pointed to other positive economic indicators, like declining unemployment.  

The decision to dip into the nation’s strategic stockpile comes as gas prices rose steadily for the past few months before leveling off last week.

Average gas prices fell this week for the second straight week, dropping 1.9 cents from a week ago, according to the fuel-price website GasBuddy. The average price stands at $3.39 per gallon, according to data that GasBuddy compiled from more than 11 million individual price reports covering over 150,000 gas stations across the country.

More:Gas prices rise to a seven-year high. Here’s a look at states where drivers pay the most

The national average is up 2.8 cents from a month ago and $1.30 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has risen 0.1 cent in the last week and stands at $3.63 per gallon.

Biden had called on oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ramp up production to provide some relief to American consumers from high gas prices. But those countries have rebuffed requests to pump more crude, leaving Biden with few options to lower gas prices.

Biden called last week for federal regulators to investigate whether oil and gas companies are engaging in “illegal conduct” by profiting from high gas prices that have skyrocketed during the pandemic.  He requested the probe in a letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan, claiming “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies.”

The federal government reported earlier this month that inflation has surged over the past 12 months as the U.S. economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. The consumer price index increased by 0.9% in October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said, leaving prices 6.2% higher than a year earlier. It’s the largest 12-month increase since 1990.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

More:‘No slam-dunk solution’: What can Joe Biden do to tame soaring inflation?

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