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Critics raise concerns about Strategic Petroleum Reserve's decline

To curb rising gas prices last summer, Biden released more than 200 million barrels from the U.S. stockpile, bringing the reserves to the lowest point since 1984.

Published: April 5, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

Lawmakers are raising concerns that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which President Joe Biden has relied on heavily since taking office, is getting dangerously low.

Gas prices hit record highs last summer, surpassing $5 per gallon nationally. To curb rising prices, Biden released more than 200 million barrels from the U.S. stockpile, bringing the reserves to the lowest point since 1984.

“By gutting vital fuel storage to lower short-term prices, the Biden Administration exposed the U.S. to future market volatility and increased supply dependence on adversarial nations instead of supporting an all-of-the-above energy approach to unleash American energy potential,” House Oversight Republicans said in a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

Republicans argue Biden used the reserve to temporarily lower prices ahead of the last November midterm elections. Oversight lawmakers say the Department of Energy has failed to provide documents requested in the inquiry despite repeated requests.

“As a depleted SPR weakens the U.S.’s ability to respond to future supply disruptions, prompt delivery of the requested documents is vital to help Congress ensure U.S. energy security,” the letter said.

According to AAA, the current national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.53, up from $3.46 a week ago and $3.40 one month ago.

Gas prices are poised to continue rising. As The Center Square previously reported, OPEC+ announced Sunday a cut in oil production to the surprise of many who speculate prices could rise significantly as a result.

Energy prices have soared under Biden’s administration, in part because of the disruption to global oil markets caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but also because of Biden’s work to discourage domestic oil and gas drilling and pipeline development.

House Republicans passed the “Lower Energy Costs Act” last week pointing to those very price increases, but the bill is unlikely to get the needed Democrat support to gain traction in the Senate.

“Only a few short years ago, foreign governments were unable to use energy as a weapon against the United States,” Daniel Turner, executive director of the energy workers advocacy group Power the Future, recently told The Center Square. “Then Joe Biden came along and made OPEC great again. Just last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill to put America back on the road to energy independence and it’s clear OPEC was paying attention. The Senate should pass H.R. 1 immediately and President Biden finally needs to put politics aside and unleash the power of American energy. Otherwise the high prices of food, utilities, and food will continue to punish the American people.”

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