Senate Democrat calls on Biden to release oil from strategic reserves

Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) speaks to the press during a post-luncheon conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) on Friday called for President Biden to release oil from the national stockpile and support legislation to suspend the federal gas tax in 2022 as he pushes to relieve gas prices that rose after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Kelly wrote a letter to Biden urging him to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move the president earlier this week already suggested he would do.

“As Russia continues its unprovoked attack on Ukraine, the average price of crude oil could remain above $100 per barrel and push the price of regular unleaded even higher than it is now,” Kelly wrote in his letter.

“Hardworking families cannot continue to bear the economic hardship of high gas prices while paying for more expensive groceries and medicine. Even before the crisis in Ukraine, Arizona families struggled with costs at the pump,” he continued.

Kelly also called on Biden to support a bill he sponsored, the Gas Prices Relief Act, which would suspend the .18 per gallon federal gas tax for the remainder of the year.

The legislation is still stuck in Congress and has faced resistance from Republicans and some Democrats.

Russia is the third-largest oil producer in the world and the commodity rose in price after the invasion of Ukraine, but Kelly noted the U.S. is the leader in natural gas production and should use that to counter “Russian aggression.”

Biden said on Thursday that he was coordinating with oil producing nations and considering releasing reserves of his own.

“I will do everything in my power to limit the pain that people are feeling at the gas pump,” he said during a press conference.

The American president, however, has a limited ability to raise or lower their prices.

Biden already released 50 million barrels from the petroleum reserve in December due to rising gas prices tied to inflation.

But Kelly said in his letter that “another release, especially if done in coordination with our allies and other nations, could help blunt rising oil prices and the corresponding prices that Americans pay at the pump.”

“As Americans, our resolve to protect freedom and uphold the rule of law guarantees that the United States will remain committed to the Ukrainian people and our NATO allies,” the senator wrote. “President Putin is counting on surging energy prices to pressure the United States and the international community.” 

Tags Joe Biden Mark Kelly Oil strategic reserve Russia-Ukraine conflict U.S. Senate

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