Republican leaders on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce say the Biden administration has made diminishing domestic energy production a policy priority by depleting the nation's strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) before the November midterm elections, causing gas prices to skyrocket and allowing OPEC, Russia, and China to gain geopolitical leverage over the U.S.
The leaders want answers from Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on how her agency plans to backfill the SPR and how many barrels of SPR crude oil have been exported to foreign countries, among other items.
In a letter to Granholm on Thursday, Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Fred Upton of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and Subcommittee Energy say the Department of Energy is "rapidly depleting the nation's petroleum reserves ahead of" the November elections while allowing OPEC, Russia and China to gain geopolitical leverage over the U.S.
"In reality, China ramped up its purchases of crude oil from Russia and the United States to boost its own reserves, even as oil prices surged and President Biden called for a coordinated release," the Republican leaders wrote. "China is reportedly in talks with Russia to buy even more oil for its strategic reserves, while the United States and the E.U. pledged to ban Russian imports.
"As a result, China may now control the world’s largest stockpile of oil, with total crude inventories estimated at 950 million barrels."
They demanded Granholm respond to 12 questions related to SPR policy and plans to refill the reserve within two weeks, including:
- How many barrels of SPR crude oil have been exported to foreign countries?
- What effect has the recent SPR releases had on U.S. gasoline prices?
- An assessment of global strategic petroleum reserves and stockholding agreements
"It is imperative that DOE maintain the nation’s petroleum reserves in a manner that does not limit our ability to prevent or reduce the adverse impacts of true energy supply shortages," McMorris Rodgers and Upton wrote.
"Even while the United States is a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products, the SPR must maintain sufficient inventory and operational capabilities to mitigate potential interruptions, such as those that occurred in recent years following hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico," they added. "This is critical for America's energy security and national security."
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