GOP Warns Biden Against Using Oil Reserve as Gas Prices Surge

By: Georgia | Published: May 30, 2024

As gas prices rise, Republican leaders have urgently warned the Biden administration about the political and practical dangers of tapping into the nation’s strategic oil reserve. 

This warning was detailed in a direct letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granhalom, noting the potential political fallout with the presidential election nearing.

Concerns Expressed in Letter to Energy Secretary

Amid rumors that the administration might release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve this summer, GOP leaders are raising the alarm. 

A middle-aged woman in a teal blazer speaking at a podium in an outdoor setting

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Their recent communication to Secretary Granholm outlines deep concerns over the repercussions such actions could have, especially with volatile gas prices.


Gas Prices Surge as Summer Begins

The U.S. has witnessed a sharp 15% hike in gas prices this year, a troubling trend as we enter the high-demand summer driving season. 

A gas station with multiple fuel pumps under a modern canopy, with cars parked and being serviced

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Such increases traditionally lead to greater fuel consumption, straining wallets and raising broader economic concerns.

Political Moves with the Oil Reserve?

“The SPR is being used as a political tool to offset high gas prices,” claims a letter from GOP leaders. 

Cathy McMorris Rodgers sitting at a table with a nameplate, smiling during a meeting.

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Signed by notable figures like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Sen. John Barrasso, the letter doesn’t mince words about their displeasure.

2022's Massive Oil Release Sparks Heated Debate

The decision to release a record 180 million barrels from the oil reserve last year has become a hot-button issue. 

Industrial scene of a large oil pipeline facility with a worker adjusting equipment.

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Republicans argue that this was a tactic to sway voters by reducing gas prices before the midterm elections, calling into question the motivations behind such a large-scale move.

Reserve Dips to Lowest Levels in Decades

Last year’s releases have depleted the reserve to its lowest point since the 1980s, igniting Republican concerns about potential risks to national energy security. 

A group of workers in safety gear posing for a photo in front of industrial machinery at a plant

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The significant reduction in reserve levels is seen as a gamble with the country’s energy future.


Granholm Defends Strategic Oil Release

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm fought back against criticism last week in congressional testimony. 

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She argued the 2022 release was crucial, needed to address disruptions in global supply triggered by global events.


Legislative Requirements and Oil Sales

The Biden administration has also highlighted that some oil sales were mandated by Congress, serving to finance other legislative initiatives. 

President Joe Biden speaking at a podium with the 'Cancer Moonshot' logo in the background at a medical summit.

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This detail adds a layer of complexity to the debate, illustrating the intertwined nature of energy policy and legislative funding.


Replenishing the Depleted Reserve

In the aftermath of last year’s drawdown, efforts are ongoing to refill the strategic oil reserve, initially established to hold over 700 million barrels following the 1970s Arab oil embargo. 

Aerial view of an industrial oil production facility with equipment and storage tanks near a water body

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The Energy Department is focused on rebuilding this critical buffer against global energy disruptions.


Current Snapshot of the Strategic Reserve

The latest figures show the strategic oil reserve contains approximately 370 million barrels, about half its intended capacity. 

Construction of a bridge over a river with large pillars being installed using cranes and barges

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This current level highlights ongoing efforts to strengthen the reserve’s readiness for future crises.


Future Gas Prices Tied to Strategic Decisions

With the summer in full swing and a presidential election around the corner, the administration’s management of the oil reserve is closely watched. 

Close-up of a person's hand using a yellow and red fuel pump to refuel a vehicle

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Decisions made now could significantly influence gas prices and economic stability in the coming months.


Looking Ahead at Energy Policy Challenges

The dynamic situation with the strategic oil reserve continues to unfold. 

President Joe Biden speaking at a public event, gesturing with his hand, with a blurred background

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As the administration addresses both domestic and global challenges, the strategies it employs will have lasting impacts on the nation’s energy policy and economic health. The coming months will be crucial in shaping these policies and their outcomes.