A group of top House Republicans introduced a bill Thursday that would force President Joe Biden to increase domestic oil and gas production when he taps the nation’s emergency stockpile.
The Strategic Production Response Act would require the Department of Energy to develop a plan for fossil fuel extraction on federal lands every time the government taps the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) for non-emergency purposes, the Republicans announced. The bill is a companion to one that was introduced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Republicans on Dec. 1.
“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created by Congress to respond to oil supply disruptions that may arise after a natural disaster or war,” Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. “The SPR is not supposed to be tapped as a bailout for the President’s anti-fossil fuel agenda, which has led to the highest gas prices in seven years.”
“Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not a long-term solution to help hard-working families devastated by these failed policies,” Rodgers said.
On Nov. 23, Biden ordered the Energy Department to release 50 million barrels of crude oil from the SPR in an effort to halt surging gasoline prices ahead of Thanksgiving. Oil prices, a key factor in determining gas prices, quickly rose after the announcement, however.
Industry experts slammed the action, suggesting it was politically motivated and wouldn’t solve the U.S. supply chain crunch. Dan Kish, a senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, said it was a “cynical move” in light of the Biden administration’s policies restricting fossil fuel production in the U.S.
“This very temporary measure is not going to solve the supply issue at the pump nor is it a solution to gas prices that have doubled in the last year,” Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, the top Republican on a House energy subcommittee and another sponsor of the bill introduced Thursday, told the Daily Caller News Foundation after the SPR release was announced.
The average price of gasoline in the U.S. hit $3.34 per gallon on Thursday, 54% higher than one year ago, according to AAA data. Pump prices have fallen in recent weeks due to concerns of the spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19, but prices remain near seven-year highs.
Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the third sponsor of the bill introduced Thursday, previously stated that the SPR cannot be used as a “piggy bank just to bail you out when your failed policies create higher gas prices” in response to a question from the DCNF at an October event.
Meanwhile, the White House is considering another measure, a potential ban on crude oil exports, which economists and experts said would lead to higher inflation and gas prices. Dozens of House Republicans lined up in opposition to such a ban last week.
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