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April 1, 2022

Biden Releases Oil From Strategic Polling Reserve

Sinking poll numbers and political calculations explain releasing 180 million barrels from the SPR.

The U.S. consumes roughly 20 million barrels of oil per day, but Joe Biden argues that releasing one million barrels per day from the Strategic (Political) Petroleum Reserve over the next 180 days will ease price pressures. The price of oil dictates the price of gasoline, and the price of gasoline drives much of overall market inflation. Drastically rising prices have cost Democrats politically. Thus, the rationale is clear: Biden’s third time tapping the government’s reserve is nothing more than a strategic release aimed at raising his flagging poll numbers.

Biden has spent his entire 14 months in office pushing a radical leftist climate agenda centered on a war on fossil fuels. Shutting down pipelines, denying or slow-walking drilling permits, and the like drove up gasoline prices in his first year. As Mark Alexander noted recently: “The national average for regular gas on January 20, 2021, Donald Trump’s last day in office, was $2.39. Six weeks into Biden’s rule, gas prices had already increased to $2.87. A year in, the price of a gallon of gas was $3.15.”

Then came Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which was enabled by Biden’s weakness, and which significantly disrupted global oil supplies. Gas prices surged to an average of $4.33 before settling back a bit. Today’s average is $4.21. That’s why Biden has taken to calling it “Putin’s price hike.”

It’s important to note that Biden and his fellow Democrats want higher gas prices because it’ll drive the nation toward their alternative energy boondoggles that much quicker. Nancy Pelosi practically admitted as much, saying of high gas prices, “We cannot allow the fossil fuel industry to use this as an excuse to reverse everything we’re doing to save the planet.”

In other words, as an “excuse” to drill for more oil.

Biden didn’t get her memo. The White House announced, “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.”

“The world is watching U.S. oil companies,” Biden himself warned. “Those sitting on unused leases and idle wells will either have to start producing or pay the price for their inaction.” They’re already paying the price simply because of his anti-oil policies.

His administration’s goal is to kill oil as the lifeline of our economy along the way to a fairytale land of “clean energy.” Aside from the aforementioned moves to shutter pipelines and restrict leases, Team Biden has floated additional taxes on oil company profits, encouraged banks not to lend money for fossil fuels, and threatened to raise fees on unused oil wells — land he complains companies “are hoarding without producing.”

Mark Alexander has also observed: “Despite Biden’s petroleum reserve charade, he is absolutely committed to higher pump prices to force Americans into his ‘green’ agenda. Joe Biden has neither pumped nor paid for his own gas in decades.”

Ironically, Biden’s demand for more output from American companies and other nations has also caused some grumbling from the ecofascists on his left flank who worry that supplying more oil will simply delay the transition away from oil. It’s making them doubt Biden’s commitment to “the cause.”

But most elected Democrats do not want to suffer quite so much politically for their “green” agenda. All those “I did that!” stickers on gas pumps reveal that most Americans know exactly where to place blame for skyrocketing gas prices. Hence Biden’s showy and unprecedented release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to go with disingenuous demands for increased production.

Without a policy agenda aimed at actually encouraging oil production, however, releasing 180 million barrels from the reserve over the next six months will fail to meaningfully reduce the price of oil and gasoline. Worse, the release is no small oil leak — it represents 13% of global reserves. It will also leave the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at its lowest point since 1984 — less than 400 million barrels, down from nearly 700 million in 2017. That oil will have to be replenished at some point, putting pressure on future demand. And the oil Biden is giving away was purchased at a far lower price than the oil he’ll have to buy to restock. Who pays for that? Biden claims “revenue from the release” will be used to restock, but it’s never that simple.

U.S. strategic oil reserves exist as a stopgap to mitigate severe supply disruptions, not inconvenient price increases due to poor policy choices. Nevertheless, at a time of great national security peril, Biden is plundering those reserves as a political pandering move.

A final note: If you’re wondering why Biden chose six months as his time frame, well, there just happens to be a very important election at the end of that window.

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