Biden is trying to address the gas price problem by announcing the sale of 15 million barrels of Strategic Petroleum Reserve | CNN Politics


President Joe Biden on Wednesday formally announced the sale of an additional 15 million barrels of Strategic Petroleum Reserve in December as he looks to lower gas prices ahead of crucial midterm elections.

“With my announcement today, we will continue to stabilize markets and lower prices at a time when the actions of other countries have caused such volatility,” Biden said in a letter from the White House. “And I’ve asked my team to be prepared for more research – look for other releases in the coming months if necessary.”

The president also revealed the administration’s plan to buy oil to refill the emergency reserve, which is now at its lowest level in nearly 40 years, when prices dip to $70 a barrel.

Refilling the reserves at $70 a barrel is a good price for companies. It is a good price for taxpayers. “It is critical to our national security,” Biden said.

The president also called on Congress to pass reform permits to speed up the permitting process for sustainable energy projects.

Wednesday’s sale announcement – which amounts to less oil than the United States uses in a day – comes less than three weeks before Election Day, and is the latest step in the White House’s unprecedented attempt to balance global oil markets. The measure is expected to fulfill the administration’s commitment in March to release 180 million historic barrels of strategic petroleum reserves over a six-month period to counteract the high energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

That commitment, which began in regular sales over the past several months, combined with global economic concerns to help lower gas prices for nearly three consecutive months. But the recent OPEC+ decision to cut oil production targets and marginalize refineries has created pressure in the market.

Biden emphasized Wednesday that the release of SPR was not politically motivated.

“He’s excited to make sure I can keep paying what I’ve been paying, and that’s making sure there’s enough oil being pumped by the companies so that we have the ability to produce the gas we need here at home, the oil we need here at home, and at the same time, we keep going. In moving towards providing alternative energy.

Biden argued that although gas prices have fallen daily in the past week, “they are not dropping fast enough.”

“When the price of gas goes up, other expenses go down,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been doing everything I can to bring gas prices down since (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s invasion of Ukraine caused those prices to go up.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Amos Hochstein, senior energy security adviser, suggested the administration would release more “if needed.” He suggested that any future release would depend on global markets and Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Pressed by CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” about what might lead to any additional releases, Hochstein said, “If necessary — look, the Russians have made it clear we can’t be sure what they’re going to do next and we’ve got some action coming in.” It will come into effect in Europe over the next several months. So the President will be watching closely and announcing today – that everything we do today can continue and we see additional releases of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, if necessary.”

He indicated that “a range of things” could lead to such a decision, including international measures that lead to higher gas prices, but he refrained from entering into hypothetical scenarios.

Hochstein on Wednesday also highlighted Biden’s plans to “replenish” the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He said the administration was asking the oil and gas industry to ramp up production and “start investing” but said there was still “a lot” of oil left in reserves.

“We still have a lot in there, we have over 400 million barrels, and that’s a lot of barrels. We will use them if we need to. But we want the industry to ramp up production now so that their barrels – the private sector barrels can get into the market. That’s not necessarily the role of oil reserves. strategic.”

Hochstein said the current price of gas is “too high” and argued that the profit gap for oil companies is “too high” as well.

“The president wants these prices to come down faster and faster. He said he will take whatever action is necessary to make sure that consumers don’t have to pay for the wars taking place in Europe.

This story was updated with additional developments on Wednesday.

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