Critics say decision is too little, too late
By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE SENIOR REPORTER
(The Center Square) — President Joe Biden announced he would release 180 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next six months in an attempt to stabilize rising costs, but critics question how much the move will help Americans who are struggling to pay for the price at the pump.
“After consultation with allies and partners, the president will announce the largest release of oil reserves in history, putting one million additional barrels on the market per day on average — every day — for the next six months,” the White House said in a statement. “The scale of this release is unprecedented: The world has never had a release of oil reserves at this 1 million per day rate for this length of time. This record release will provide a historic amount of supply to serve as a bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up.”
Critics say President Biden’s plan is too little, too late.
They point to Mr. Biden’s domestic energy policies, arguing the president has slowed oil production since taking office and made the U.S. more reliant on foreign sources of oil.
President Biden drew criticism earlier in his administration for calling on OPEC to produce more oil to lower U.S. prices after he halted new leases for oil production on federal lands, stopped construction of the Keystone Pipeline and placed new regulations on the industry.
“Laughably, President Biden is set to announce the release of up to 180 million barrels of oil from our strategic reserves to counter surging energy costs,” said Joel Griffith, a policy expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But this is under 10 days’ worth of daily U.S. oil use. Meanwhile, this administration’s ‘war on energy’ continues — by including shuttering pipelines, closing off swathes of the nation to drilling, and even threatening oil executives with prison for providing the gasoline American business and families depend on.”
President Biden, though, has argued the most recent surge in prices is Russia’s fault. Mr. Biden recently announced a ban on Russian oil imports, which account for a small fraction of U.S. consumption.
The White House said the Department of Energy will restock the reserve supply, which has roughly 600 million barrels, over the coming years.
“This will provide a signal of future demand and help encourage domestic production today, and will ensure the continued readiness of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to respond to future emergencies,” the White House said. “President Biden is coordinating this action with allies and partners around the world, and other countries are expected to join in this action, bringing the total release to well over an average 1 million barrels per day.”
According to the American Automobile Association, the national gas price average is $4.23 per gallon, a major hike compared to the $2.73 per gallon average from the same time last year.
California has consistently stayed above the national average. On Thursday, AAA reported the state’s average was $5.90 per gallon.
In Santa Barbara County on Thursday, the average was $5.97 a gallon. Neighboring counties were higher. Ventura County’s average on Thursday was $6.03 a gallon, and San Luis Obispo County saw an average of $6.07 a gallon, according to AAA.
Critics argue President Biden’s oil reserve plan is a short-term solution that will not solve the nation’s bigger energy problems.
“The Biden team is so beholden to the radical green groups they cannot advocate for the only real, long term solution to high energy prices: production increases,” said Daniel Turner, head of Power the Future, an energy workers advocacy group. “Releasing strategic reserves has not done anything the two times Biden already tried it, but he’s doing it again because that’s what you get from someone who has been in D.C. for six decades: rinse and repeat.
“Tapping into the strategic oil reserves for economic relief is like printing more money to fight inflation: Government created problems with government officials calling for more government. There’s never a vision to find a solution. They’re only Band-Aids.”
Casey Harper works at The Center Square’s Washington, D.C., bureau.