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Biden slammed for anticipated Strategic Petroleum Reserve release: not ‘a long-term solution’

Critics slammed President Biden on Wednesday for his anticipated decision to release more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) as part of his administration’s efforts to keep fuel prices low following the recent production cuts announced by OPEC+ nations. 

The president is expected to announce the release of 15 million barrels of oil from the SPR and say that more drawdowns are possible this winter. That would complete the release of 180 million barrels authorized by Biden in March that was originally supposed to occur over six months. Consequently, the reserve now contains roughly 400 million barrels of oil, its lowest level in nearly 40 years. 

Anne Bradbury, CEO of the American Exploration and Production Council, criticized Biden’s moves as short-sighted, saying that the American people need better solutions to address rising energy prices.

“Pulling more crude from the strategic petroleum reserve will only artificially lower prices for the short term and should not be a substitute for long-term policies to increase domestic crude supplies,” she said in a statement. “The SPR was established to reduce the impacts of short-term market disruptions, not serve as a long-term solution or tool to manipulate energy markets.” 

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Bradbury called on the Biden administration to take a more collaborative approach that focuses on supporting domestic production and oil and natural gas. 

American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Mike Sommers argued that increasing energy demand and constrained supply coupled with geopolitical instability and faulty policy decisions have driven fuel prices higher. 

“At a time when American energy can be a stabilizing force at home and abroad, we urge caution in continuing to rely on short-term efforts that are no substitute for sound long-term policies that enable American energy leadership,” Sommers said in a statement. 

Sommers called on the Biden administration to focus instead on addressing “fundamental economic and security challenges (the U.S. faces) by spurring more investment in American energy, infrastructure and markets that enable U.S. consumers to benefit from America’s reliable energy resources.” 

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, meanwhile, accused Biden of resorting to “gimmicks” after his “anti-U.S. energy agenda has resulted in soaring gas prices.” 

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“Democrats are to blame for the pain at the pump, the record high utility bills, and soaring energy costs,” she said in a statement. “Voters know Republicans are ready to get our economy back on track and that starts with unleashing American energy.” 

Fox News has reached out to the Department of Energy and the White House for comment. 

Biden is expected to say that the U.S. government will restock the SPR when oil prices are at or lower than $67 to $72 a barrel, an offer that administration officials argue will support domestic production by guaranteeing a baseline level of demand. Yet the president is also expected to renew his criticism of the profits reaped by oil companies.

It marks the continuation of an about-face by Biden, who has tried to move the U.S. past fossil fuels to identify additional sources of energy to satisfy U.S. and global supply as a result of disruptions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and production cuts announced by the Saudi Arabia-led oil cartel.

The prospective loss of 2 million barrels a day — 2% of global supply — has had the White House saying Saudi Arabia sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin and pledging there will be consequences for supply cuts that could prop up energy prices. The 15 million-barrel release would not cover even one full day’s use of oil in the U.S., according to the Energy Information Administration.

Biden has resisted the policies favored by U.S. oil producers. Instead, he’s sought to reduce prices by releasing oil from the SPR, shaming oil companies for their profits and calling on greater production from countries in OPEC+ that have different geopolitical interests, said Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute.

“If they continue to offer the same old so-called solutions, they’ll continue to get the same old results,” Macchiarola said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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