Biden under fire for letting 5 million barrels of oil go overseas as US prices hit record highs

The move was widely questioned after gas prices hit all-time high in June

John Bowden
Wednesday 06 July 2022 17:29 EDT
White House dodges questions on oil reserves

President Joe Biden is facing questions about his administration’s ability to manage its own efforts aimed at lowering gas prices for Americans as the US faces all-time historic price surges.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that 5 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve have made their way overseas to Europe and Asia. The administration’s decision to draw from the stockpile is part of an effort to lower domestic fuel prices amid the summer travel season. In many areas around the US, gasoline and diesel prices have surged past $5 a gallon.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about the situation on Tuesday, and declined to comment while stating that she had not seen the report. On Wednesday, The Independent pressed the White House for a further response, and questions were deflected to the Department of Energy.

“Oil is a commodity traded on the global market, and while the United States government does not control oil and gas companies, the commodity the industry sells or the market, the [Strategic Petroleum Reserve] remains a critical energy security tool to address global crude oil supply disruptions,” said the agency in a statement. “The emergency releases the President authorized has helped to ensure stable supply of crude oil to help keep our economy running and mitigate the pain [Vladimir] Putin is causing at the pump. U.S. oil and gas companies are eligible for sales and exchanges from the SPR and have benefited from the releases to date.”

Republicans, meanwhile, laid into the adminsitration and accused Mr Biden of being unable or unwilling to help Americans amid unprecedented economic troubles brought on by inflation which has persisted since the US and global economy began reopening after the initial wave of Covid-19 infections in 2020. Supply-chain issues and historically-high demand for consumer goods is continuing to push prices higher in many industrialised countries, not just the US.

The national gas price average is currently $4.78 per gallon, down from the all-time high of $5.01 recorded in mid-June but still more than $1.50 per gallon up from this time last year.

“President Biden drained our Strategic Petroleum Reserve to dangerously low levels just so that we could turn around and send 5,000,000 barrels of oil to Europe and Asia? America Last Presidency!” tweeted Rep Jim Banks.

The Republican National Committee also honed in on Ms Jean-Pierre’s response to a question on the issue from RealClearPolitics’s Philip Wegmann, claiming that her non-response was evidence that the White House “doesn’t know that millions of barrels of oil released from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve have been sent to foreign countries.”

Inflation and gas prices are consistently being referenced by voters in political polls as their top issues driving their votes in November, a dangerous sign for Joe Biden and his party as they attempt to hold on to majorities in the House and Senate.

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