President Joe Biden has addressed rising gas prices by releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — a stock of emergency crude oil created to “reduce the impact of disruptions in supplies of petroleum products.” Though reserves in January 2021 were as high as 638 million barrels, reserves have fallen to 434 million barrels as of last week — a level not seen since 1984.
Multiple people familiar with the Biden administration’s deliberations told Bloomberg that officials might begin refilling the reserves once crude prices dip below $80 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the American benchmark for crude oil, was more than $85 per barrel as of Thursday morning, approaching levels seen at the beginning of the year.
Another report from Bloomberg, however, noted that former President Donald Trump attempted to stabilize the petroleum industry in early 2020 by filling the reserve with oil priced at $24 per barrel — a rock-bottom rate that occurred as a result of worldwide lockdowns. Democrats blocked the measure amid broader stimulus package negotiations, with Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) boasting that his colleagues had nixed a “bailout for big oil.”
The national average price of gasoline was $2.38 per gallon when President Joe Biden assumed office, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, and increased to $3.53 per gallon by the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Prices surpassed $5.00 per gallon in early June before subsiding to $3.70 per gallon as of Thursday, according to data from AAA.
The White House previously asserted that the release of strategic petroleum “will provide a historic amount of supply to serve as bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up.” Nevertheless, at least five million barrels have found their way to nations such as India, the Netherlands, and Italy, as well as a Chinese oil company with links to Hunter Biden.
Beyond nixing expansions to the Keystone XL pipeline and slowing federal oil leases to a crawl, Biden returned the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement — an international treaty signed in 2015 that calls for slashing worldwide emissions in half by 2030. Energy policy from the Biden administration has accordingly centered upon incentives for green power. The Inflation Reduction Act, for example, allocated $369 billion to climate measures.
However, business leaders — including JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon — have called for the United States to increase oil production. “We should focus on climate. The problem with that is because of high oil and gas prices, the world is turning back on their coal plants,” he remarked last month. “It is dirtier. Why can’t we get it through our thick skulls, that if you want to solve climate, it is not against climate for America to boost more oil and gas?”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who runs the world’s largest electric vehicle producer, cautioned that a pivot to renewables would likely take decades. “Realistically I think we need to use oil and gas in the short term, because otherwise civilization will crumble,” he told reporters. “One of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced is the transition to sustainable energy and to a sustainable economy. That will take some decades to complete.”