GOP members of the House Oversight Committee have launched an investigation into President Joe Biden's release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Word of the probe came in a Wednesday letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. The letter was signed by 13 Republicans, including Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., ranking member of the House Oversight Committee.
"The Biden administration continues to pursue policies that suppress domestic energy production and drive fuel prices higher for consumers," they said. "We are concerned that the president may soon impose an oil and gas export ban that will result in even higher gas prices, supply chain issues, global market upheaval, and reduced energy security for the U.S. and our allies.
"While you have not confirmed a ban will be imposed, recent reports by top officials suggest administration interest in restricting exports of refined petroleum products. As such, we request documents and information to learn more about the administration's potential plans to ban oil and gas exports, as well as the Department of Energy's role in the potential misuse of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a means to increase domestic fuel supply.
"On October 5, 2022, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its affiliates announced their intent to cut oil production by two million barrels a day — the equivalent of two percent of current global yields — beginning in November. The promise of production cutbacks amid a preexisting supply shortage will increase fuel prices, adding to the recent surges in gasoline prices this month after briefly falling in September from an all-time high of $5 a gallon in June. In a move that sought to lower gas prices leading up to the midterm elections, the Biden administration asked OPEC+ to delay production cuts until December — a proposal which OPEC+ rejected.
"In addition to potentially imposing an export ban, President Biden is further depleting the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ahead of the midterm elections. Following the oil embargo OPEC levied against the U.S. in 1973, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created as an emergency buffer to mitigate domestic fallout from global market shocks. But after President Biden emptied more of our vital stockpiles than all previous presidents combined, the SPR now sits at its lowest levels since establishment. The SPR currently holds only enough reserves to offset U.S. consumption for 50 days should imports cease. Dipping further into the SPR to cover additional foreign fuel bans or price fluctuations is a short-sighted fix that would inadvertently exacerbate U.S. vulnerability."
In the letter, the House members asked for a variety of documents and communication about the drawdowns.
The Washington Examiner noted Biden, in late March, had ordered an emergency drawdown of the reserve, which amounted to about 180 million barrels of oil after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Biden has announced he is releasing 15 million more barrels of oil from the SPR. And he has called on the U.S. oil companies to ramp up production. In addition, he is offering them a $70 per barrel guaranteed price to sell it back to the U.S. government to refill the SPR in the future when demand falls and the price drops below $70 per barrel.
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