House GOP prepares vote to tie Strategic Petroleum Reserve sales to oil, gas production boosts

The SPR is a reserve of petroleum under federal control that may be either used or sold during national emergencies.

Updated: January 25, 2023 - 11:48pm

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House Republicans are demanding a vote this week on a bill to tie any future sales of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to increases in domestic oil and gas production.

H.R. 21, dubbed the "Strategic Production Response Act," would require federal officials to devise a plan to match an SPR drawdown with a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for oil and gas production.

"Except in the case of a severe energy supply interruption ... the Secretary may not execute the first drawdown of petroleum products in the Reserve," according to the bill, "... until the Secretary has developed a plan to increase the percentage of Federal lands (including submerged lands of the Outer Continental Shelf) under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Secretary of Defense leased for oil and gas production by the same percentage as the percentage of petroleum in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that is to be drawn down in that first and subsequent drawdowns." 

The bill caps any prospective increase in the percentage of federal land leased for such efforts at 10%.


House Republicans aim to bring the bill to a vote this week, according to Politico, which categorized the measure as a "not-gonna-pass messaging bill." Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso introduced a similar measure in the upper chamber this week.

The SPR is a reserve of petroleum under federal control that may be either used or sold during national emergencies. President Joe Biden made multiple sales from the SPR throughout 2022 as the nation strained under exorbitant gas prices.

Biden released oil from the SPR to combat soaring prices caused by declines in domestic production, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and OPEC+ production cuts. Republicans have repeatedly accused the president of compromising national security to score political points.

U.S. Oil and Gas Association President Tim Stewart told "Just the News, No Noise" in September that Biden was using the SPR as a "campaign credit card to buy down political risk for the midterms."

The SPR fell to its lowest levels since 1985 as a result of Biden's sales, which included sales to China from the U.S. emergency reserve. Since taking power in early January, House Republicans have advanced legislation to curtail Biden's SPR sales, including a ban on future sales to China, which received substantial Democratic support.

Both the White House and its Democratic congressional allies have balked at the plan to tie SPR drawdowns to production boosts and defended the Biden sales, insisting that the administration used the reserve in an appropriate manner.

House Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) told Politico that that Biden's own policies had necessitated SPR sales, since the president was waging a "war on fossil fuels."

"He is jeopardizing our energy security, which jeopardizes our national security," Carter added.

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