The national average price for gasoline is currently $3.85 per gallon, according to data from AAA, marking a nearly 62% increase since Biden assumed office at the beginning of last year. In response to the rising prices, Biden announced in March that his administration would release 180 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a stock of emergency crude oil created to manage supply disruptions in energy markets. Transactions for the final 15 million barrels will clear by the end of December.
“Global crude oil supply flows remain a challenge, due in large part to the ongoing instability caused by Russia’s actions in Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement. “The President is prepared to authorize significant additional sales in coming months if conditions require.”
West Texas Intermediate, the American benchmark for crude oil, was nearly $85 per barrel as of Wednesday morning after a decline on Tuesday afternoon. The White House noted that officials “will not hesitate” to use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve or other tools “to shore up the global supply of energy, support domestic inventory levels, and bring prices down for Americans.”
Biden plans to repurchase crude oil at prices that could range between $67 per barrel and $72 per barrel. According to the White House, the move will “protect taxpayers and help create certainty around future demand for crude oil.” Two years ago, however, former President Donald Trump attempted to stabilize the energy sector by filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with oil priced at $24 per barrel, a rock-bottom rate that occurred as a result of worldwide lockdowns. Democrats blocked the measure amid broader stimulus package negotiations.
Biden has presided over a decrease in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve from 638 million barrels to 409 million barrels, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. When one reporter questioned White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre this week on why the release was necessary since gas prices are trending downward, as the administration asserts, she claimed that Americans would receive “a little bit of breathing room” as a result of the policy.
“President Biden has said for months how he is committed to doing everything that he can in his power to address Putin’s price hike,” Jean-Pierre said. “He has said this on almost every speech that you’ve heard him talk about when it comes to gas prices and what the American people are seeing and feeling at the pump. And he’s been delivering on that.”
Although the release is primarily intended to cut domestic energy prices, at least 5 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve have found their way to nations such as India, the Netherlands, and Italy, as well as a Chinese oil company with links to Hunter Biden.
The economy and inflation are salient issues among voters preparing to cast ballots in the midterm elections, with 84% considering the former to be a top factor on their minds. The Republicans lead the Democrats by a 16% margin and a 19% margin with respect to trust on handling the economy and inflation, respectively, according to a recent poll from ABC News and The Washington Post.
The government of Saudi Arabia released a statement last week claiming that Biden had asked the kingdom to avoid a decrease in oil production until after the American elections. Earlier this month, Biden reportedly began preparing to ease sanctions on Venezuela so that Chevron, an American oil company, could resume production in the socialist nation.