January 25, 2023 |
As the White House and Congress square off over how the Biden administration has been draining the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso has introduced a bill that would prevent the sale of any of the supplies from the SPR to China.
Two pieces of legislation are in play on the House side that push back against the unprecedented releases from the critical energy backstop. House Bill 21 would link releases from the SPR to increases in domestic oil production. The bill restricts the president, except during an emergency, from tapping the SRP unless it simultaneously released a plan to increase U.S. oil production.
President Biden said he will veto the bill.
Since taking office, the president has released 190 million barrels of oil from the reserves stored in salt caverns and tanks off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. The SPR reached its lowest levels since 1983 last month.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm this week characterized any attempt by Congress to restrict the releases as “extreme.”
Biden first ordered the Department of Energy to tap into the SPR in November 2021, saying it was a “major effort to moderate the price of oil” and lower prices at the average “corner gas station.” After Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Biden announced a 30-million-barrel release and another 180-million-barrel release in March 2022.
Senator Barrasso, in an op-ed in the National Review this week, said the SPR was established to ease the effects of unexpected supply disruptions, not to “bail out an administration’s failed energy policies.”
Yesterday, Barrasso introduced the Secure Auction for Energy Reserves Act. In a statement, the ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee said “adversaries cannot be allowed to benefit from America’s security reserve.”
The bill would ban SPR sales to China, as well as to state-owned companies which purchase oil from Russia, Iran and other nations which the U.S. has sanctioned. The House passed a similar bill earlier this month on a vote of 331 to 97.
Sales of SPR releases under Biden were tracked back to China last year.