WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that his administration will release 1 million barrels of oil per day for the next six months from its strategic reserve in an effort to tame the elevated gas prices.
The authorization of releasing over 180 million barrels from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the “largest” release from national reserve in U.S. history, Biden said in a speech from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
The latest move to release oil reserve came weeks after the United States and other major oil-consuming nations announced in early March that they would release 60 million barrels from their emergency stockpiles. In an attempt to boost domestic supply, Biden pushed U.S. oil companies to produce more oil, accusing some companies of exploiting the current situation to earn massive profits.
The president proposed a “use it or lose it” policy, which makes companies pay fees on wells on federal leases they haven’t used in years and acres of public land they’re hoarding without production.
“Look, the action I’m calling for will make a real difference over time. But the truth is it takes months, not days, for companies to increase production,” said Biden.
In his speech, Biden also highlighted the importance of U.S. energy independence and called for a transition to clean energy. “Ultimately, we and the whole world need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels altogether. We need to choose long-term security over energy and climate vulnerability,” he said.
Biden, who faces with mounting pressure to address a surging inflation ahead of the midterm elections, blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s military action for rising gas prices.
“As Russian oil comes off the global market, supply of oil drops and prices are rising,” he said, acknowledging the U.S. energy embargo on Russia would “come with a cost.” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, however, argued that the Biden administration’s policies should be blamed for the “worst inflation in 40 years,” which is fleecing American consumers from the gas pump to the grocery store.