The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at limiting the president’s ability to draw down the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve for any reason other than a “severe energy supply disruption.”
Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ legislation, H.R. 21, the Strategic Production Response Act, would require the Biden Administration to stop the use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and to develop a plan to increase oil and gas production on federal lands that offset any additional drawdowns.
“President Biden has turned a longtime bipartisan strategic asset, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, into a political tool to cover up the consequences of his expensive rush-to-green agenda. H.R. 21 provides a path towards making energy more affordable and reliable for Americans by preserving the SPR’s vital and central purpose – to provide the oil supplies Americans need during true emergencies, not drain them away for non-emergency, political purposes. I am honored to join my Republican colleagues in passing this important bill to strengthen American energy security and leadership,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
Last year, the Biden Administration released 180 million barrels of oil. This was the largest drawdown of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in American history.
Republicans said that as a direct result of President Biden’s reckless anti-American energy policies, our emergency reserves are at their lowest level since 1983.
Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not a long-term solution to help struggling families, workers, and small businesses, Republicans argued.
“I’m proud that the new Republican majority made this one of our priorities. In less than two years, President Biden has drained our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, putting American energy security at risk. Thankfully, Republicans have a plan to address this issue: Replenish our reserve and unleash American energy. The President’s energy policies have hurt Americans,” said Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is an emergency stockpile of petroleum maintained by the United States Department of Energy (DOE). It is the largest publicly known emergency supply in the world; its underground tanks in Louisiana and Texas have a capacity for 714 million barrels (113,500,000 m3). The United States started the petroleum reserve in 1975 to mitigate future supply disruptions as part of the international Agreement on an International Energy Program after oil supplies were interrupted during the 1973–1974 oil embargo.
On March 31, 2022, President Joe Biden announced that his administration would release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the reserve for 180 days, selling it at an average price of $96 per barrel. After oil prices declined during the second half of the year, in December the administration announced it would begin replenishing the SPR in early 2023, expecting to purchase oil at a lower price than it was sold, a process that would take months or years to complete.
According to legislation already in place, the amount of oil in the reserve could fall to as little as 238 million barrels by 2028. This will be a 67% reduction in the oil in the reservoir since 2010.