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Trump administration to buy 1 million barrels of oil for national stockpile

Trump administration to buy 1 million barrels of oil for national stockpile
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The Department of Energy (DOE) is planning to buy 1 million barrels of oil from U.S. companies after funding to make a larger purchase failed to pass Congress.

A notice posted by the agency Wednesday calls the purchase “a test” for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a national stockpile President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE in mid-March said he would fill “right up to the top.”

The 1 million barrel purchase would be a far cry from the 77 million barrels of space within the reserve. Doing so would have required $3 billion in funds, which Congress did not appropriate as part of the CARES Act stimulus package.

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The effort comes as oil prices have fallen to historic lows due to a lack of demand and a lack of storage space for an oversupply of oil.

Democrats have repeatedly spoken out against any effort to assist the oil and gas industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Using federal assistance — including low-interest loans, royalty relief, tax breaks, or strategic petroleum reserve purchases — in order to prop up oil companies would be a wasteful misuse of government resources that would exacerbate the climate crisis,” Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden endorses Texas Democratic House candidate Julie Oliver Ocasio-Cortez rolls out Twitch channel to urge voting Calls grow for Democrats to ramp up spending in Texas MORE (I-Vt.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill | Poll: Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan | Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Senate Republicans offer constitutional amendment to block Supreme Court packing MORE (D-Mass.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan Merkley Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump, Biden renew push for Latino support Sunday shows - Trump team defends coronavirus response MORE (D-Ore.) wrote in a letter to the president when the idea was first floated.

In April, DOE announced it would instead rent 23 million barrels of storage space in the reserve, allowing companies to pay for the space in oil. 

The 1 million barrel purchase would be open to small and mid-sized oil and gas companies. The Federal Reserve Board also tweaked its Main Street Lending Program to be accessible to the same size oil companies.

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Bloomberg TV on Wednesday that he and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Trump casts doubt on hopes for quick stimulus deal after aides expressed optimism Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid MORE were asked by President Trump “to evaluate the programs that were passed by the Congress and ensure that there is access for these energy industries to those programs.”