- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 9, 2021

House Republicans are backing legislation to force President Biden to increase domestic oil and gas production on federal lands to make up for the administration’s decision to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to lower gasoline prices.

Named the “Strategic Production Response Act,” the bill is the brainchild of senior Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It would require the secretary of energy to devise a plan to boost oil and gas production on federal lands if the president opts to tap the SPR for non-emergency reasons.

GOP lawmakers say the bill is needed to protect the emergency oil supply from being raided for political reasons. They say that if such guardrails are not in place, the U.S. risks being left dangerously short of fuel during actual national crises.

“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created by Congress to respond to oil supply disruptions that may arise after a natural disaster or war,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce panel. “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.”

Last month, Mr. Biden released 50 million barrels of oil from the reserve. The White House argued the release was necessary to mitigate the sky-high cost of fuel Americans are facing during the holiday season.

“As we come out of an unprecedented global economic shutdown, oil supply has not kept up with demand, forcing working families and businesses to pay the price,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.

“This action underscores the president’s commitment to using the tools available to bring down costs for working families and to continue our economic recovery.”

Mr. Biden’s decision to tap the reserve was part of a coordinated effort with Britain, China, India, Japan and South Korea.

Gasoline prices have steadily climbed since Mr. Biden won the presidency last November. According to consumer price trackers such as GasBuddy.com, the average cost for a gallon of gasoline nationwide is $3.39. That’s nearly $1.30 higher than the cost-per-gallon this time last year.

Republicans attribute the rise not only to the coronavirus pandemic, but also to policies being pushed by Mr. Biden. They say the White House’s suspension of oil and gas leases on public lands, coupled with new regulations and the cancellation of energy projects and pipelines, has added to the price crunch.

“Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not a long-term solution to help hard-working families devastated by these failed policies,” said Mrs. Rodgers. “The Biden administration must end its hostility to producing energy here at home, and reverse the policies that have led to the cancellation of critical pipelines and endless permitting delays.”

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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