In an effort to bring down soaring gasoline prices, President Joe Biden announced a plan Thursday to release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation's strategic reserves over the next six months.
"Our prices are rising because of Putin's actions,” Biden said, pinning the blame for higher fuel costs on Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, in addition to pandemic-induced shortages. “There isn't enough supply. And the bottom line is if we want lower gas prices we need to have more oil supply right now,” Biden added.
The release of up to 180 million barrels, the largest since the oil reserve was created in 1974, would act as a “wartime bridge” through the current crisis to get the country to later in the year, when the White House expects to see higher production levels.
Biden also called on Congress to impose new fees on oil companies that hold roughly 9,000 permits to drill on federal lands but aren’t producing oil – what he called a “use it or lose it” policy to increase supply. “U.S. oil companies are recording their largest profits in years and can put those profits toward productive use,” a senior White House official said. “While some companies have already announced they are increasing immediate production, too many are choosing right now to make extraordinary profits without investing in more supply.”
Still, as in previous efforts to combat gasoline prices through oil reserve releases, critics were skeptical about the impact the release would have. “I do believe the national average could eventually fall under $4/gal in the weeks ahead, but I don't necessarily think this [Strategic Petroleum Reserve] release is the event that will be the primary catalyst for it,” Patrick De Haan of Gas Buddy tweeted. “If anything it could help get us there quicker, but again, likely at the expense of long term stability.”