Anyone familiar with domestic energy policy knows the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is critical to our nation. But it seems Joe Biden saw the acronym S-P-R and thought, “Strategic Political Reserve.”
The Louisiana- and Texas-based series of subterranean, artificial caverns were created by Congress in 1975 as a response to OPEC’s oil embargoes in 1973-74. The caverns have a capacity for up to 714 million barrels of oil, equivalent to just over a month’s worth of daily U.S. imports. Think of it as a “break glass only in emergency” option, except with oil.
As of this month, however, the SPR held only 362 million barrels, a decrease of an incredible 34% of the reserve’s totals from just a year ago. That’s 550 million fewer barrels for those keeping track. Why the precipitous drop? Politics.
To offset the disgust from the American public over record-high gas prices that threatened household budgets for travel, food, transportation, and leisure from the end of 2021 and through last summer, President Biden directed sales of 260 million barrels from the SPR. These draw-downs – designed to increase supply and lower prices – were hailed as sound economic policy by those on the Left, and a threat to national energy security by Biden’s critics.
On second thought, with his approval at a dismal 38% last summer, perhaps Biden thought SPR stands for “Sneaky Poll Rescue?”
Much like the administration’s outright disasters at the southern border, in Afghanistan, or the decimation of domestic energy independence, the draw-down plan was anything but successful. Sure, gas prices dropped, but so did consumer confidence in the administration, especially after it was revealed that one million barrels of SPR were sold to China. With the U.S. heavily dependent on Chinese-dominated supply chains for everything from pharmaceuticals to defense technologies, it made little sense to rational Americans to weaken our oil reserves while meeting Communist China’s energy needs.
Facing intense scrutiny, the Energy Department then announced that it would begin refilling the SPR once prices stabilized in the $65-72 per barrel range. It’s worth noting that president Trump proposed refilling the SPR back when oil was $24 per barrel, but the Democrats blocked it.
To date, none of the promised repurchases have taken place, thanks to the continued bungling of the administration. This week, however, Biden’s Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced the department would try again. In a statement they said they plan to “repurchase up to three million barrels of crude at a lower price than the over $94 per barrel price it was sold for in 2022, while strengthening energy security by providing certainty to the industry in a way that helps encourage near-term supply.”
Only a Biden apologist would find their stance truthful or convincing. Record-high prices brought about by Biden’s eco-driven energy policies now bring a higher cost to the U.S. as it seeks to refill the Reserve. The refill cost in 2023 will be nearly triple that of the historical average cost to fill the SPR and over two times higher than the average price per barrel ($29.70).
Assuming the administration can find sellers willing to sell oil, and the repurchasing process goes smoothly, it will still only replenish less than 2% of what it drew down. At this rate, we may have to wait for the inauguration of the 58th President before we finish the job Joe Biden started.
It is another perfect example of the long-term damage Team Biden has inflicted on America. He was only supposed to break the glass in case of emergency, but instead Joe Biden has broken so much more.
Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs and opportunities. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @PTFAlaska.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.