Republicans launch investigation into Biden’s release of strategic oil reserves to lower gas prices

Republicans launch an investigation into Biden’s ‘misuse’ of emergency oil reserves to lower gas prices after talk of ban on fuel exports after Saudi rejected call to delay OPEC deal

  • Republican Reps. James Comer and Nancy Mace are leading with a new letter 
  • It asks Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for all internal communications related to the release of the country’s strategic petroleum reserves 
  • Roughly 180 million barrels have been release under President Biden 
  • GOP lawmakers decry the moves as a threat to national security
  • Biden announced the release of 15 million more barrels earlier this month with barely three weeks until the November midterm elections 
  • Comer and Mace are also going after Biden for allegedly selling the oil to China 

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have accused President Joe Biden of improperly tapping into the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve to soften the blow of Saudi Arabia-led OPEC+’s decision to dramatically cut its oil production.

The president announced the release of 15 million oil barrels earlier this month, just weeks before the November midterm elections where his party stands to lose the majority in one or both houses of Congress.

In a letter sent to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday, Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) are demanding the Biden administration answer for the 180 million barrels released from the strategic reserve since the springtime, according to Bloomberg.

Biden has used the strategy to ease high gas prices, which reached a $5 per gallon average nationwide peak in June, despite warnings from lawmakers across the aisle that the reserves are only meant to be used in the event of an emergency.

‘We are concerned that the president may soon impose an oil and gas export ban that will result in even higher gas prices, supply chain issues, global market upheaval, and reduced energy security for the US and our allies,’ the letter stated. 

It was sent after a New York Times report revealed that US officials had made a backroom deal with the Saudis to boost oil production through the year, only to be left stunned and frustrated when the Kingdom turned its back on the secret arrangement.

President Joe Biden has been criticized by Republicans for releasing more than 100 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserves to ease high gas prices

President Joe Biden has been criticized by Republicans for releasing more than 100 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserves to ease high gas prices

While a blow to the US, the move is also seen as a boost for Russia and its illegal invasion of Ukraine. 

The deal was reportedly struck before Biden’s controversial trip to Saudi Arabia, which happened despite his criticizing the Middle Eastern state for its abysmal human rights record. 

The White House maintains the trip was not about oil, but Biden’s critics hammered him for the appearance of pleading with the Saudis for help lowering energy costs at home rather than tapping into the US’s own fossil fuel resources.

Prices at the pump are falling as of Thursday, giving Democrats a sigh of relief with the election less than two weeks away. 

But politicians don’t control gas prices, nor is it clear yet if voters will be forgiving after months of rising costs at break-neck pace.

On Thursday the average cost of a gallon of gas was $3.76, less than a penny lower than Wednesday’s price and slightly higher than it was at this time last month.

Comer and Mace asked for Granholm to turn over any relevant communications to discussions about the strategic petroleum reserves within the department and within the White House.

Rep. Nancy Mace is one of the Republicans leading a letter to the Biden administration on the oil reserve releases

It was also signed by Rep. James Comer, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight committee

A letter was sent to Biden Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm by House Oversight Committee Republicans Nancy Mace (left) and James Comer (right)

While having little actionable power in the minority, the initiation of Oversight Republicans’ probe is another indication of the broad scrutiny that GOP lawmakers are aiming to give to the Biden administration next year if they make big gains in the midterms. 

Both Comer and Mace are in safe Republican districts, so it’s highly likely they will continue their effort next year.

The pair have raised multiple alarm bells over the White House’s alleged sale of oil from the US’s emergency stocks to a Chinese-backed company called Unipec America.

Regulations mandate that the Energy Department sell the oil releases to the highest bidder regardless of whether they are foreign or domestic.

They reiterated those concerns when Biden announced the additional release of 15 million barrels earlier this month.

‘In order to ensure the American people that the Biden Administration is properly managing the sale of critical assets from the SPR and not supporting Russia by providing oil to China, we request a briefing and documents related to this matter,’ the statement read. 

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