Biden confirms 15-million barrel SPR release, calls for energy permitting reform

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Joe Biden speaks about energy and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve during an event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Oct. 19, 2022.

President Biden on Wednesday confirmed the further release of 15 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, weeks after the OPEC+ bloc of nations announced it would cut production.

The president touted decreases in gas prices from the summer peak, but said prices are “not falling fast enough,” adding that the previously-announced drawdown would continue into December and that it would continue in the months ahead “if needed.”

“This allows us to move quickly to prevent oil price spikes and respond to international events,” the president said. White House officials previously confirmed the release Tuesday evening, although it was part of previously-scheduled releases.

Biden also called for “responsibly increas[ing] American oil production without delaying or deferring our transition to clean energy.” He noted that domestic oil production is around 12 million barrels per day and that the U.S. continues to export more petroleum products than it imports.

Biden then announced plans for the government to purchase oil to refill the SPR once it falls to $70 per barrel with a goal of assuaging oil company fears of being unable to sell oil at competitive prices.

“That means oil companies can invest to ramp up production now with confidence that they will be able to sell their oil to us at that price in the future,” Biden said. “Refining and refilling the reserve at $70 is a good price for companies and it’s a good price for taxpayers.”

He continued, calling on oil companies to “pass the savings on to consumers,” echoing what has been a frequent refrain from the White House as oil company profits have remained high even as prices at the pump have increased.

“You should not be using your profits to buy back stock for dividends, not now, not while a war is raging,” he said.

He also called for Congress to pass energy permitting reform, invoking a major priority of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who backed the administration’s signature Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for a vote on such a reform bill. The bill, initially part of must-pass government stopgap funding, was later removed amid lack of support from both parties.

The president denied the announcement was motivated by political concerns ahead of the midterm elections, where the prospect of higher gas prices may loom large to Democratic candidates’ fortunes.

Tags Biden joe manchin Joe Manchin oil prices OPEC+ strategic petroleum reserve

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