The Democratic chairman of the Senate Energy Committee criticized President Biden for tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve on Tuesday while pushing “short-sighted” energy policies that were contributing to the skyrocketing price of gasoline.
Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, said the move amounted to little more than a short-term fix to a larger problem stemming directly from the White House itself.
“Today’s release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is an important policy band-aid for rising gas prices but does not solve the self-inflicted wound that shortsighted energy policy is having on our nation,” Mr. Manchin said.
“Historic inflation, taxes and the lack of a comprehensive all-of-the-above energy policy pose a clear and present threat to America’s economic and energy security that can no longer be ignored,” he said.
Mr. Manchin’s statement came in response to Mr. Biden’s announcement that he would release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an emergency supply of oil housed by the Department of Energy.
The reserve consists of around 600 million barrels.
Mr. Biden has argued the release is necessary to mitigate the sky-high cost of fuel prices Americans are facing on the cusp of 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.”
The White House says its decision to tap into the reserve is being made as 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.
Mr. Manchin and most 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, has added to the price crunch.
“With an energy transition underway across the country, it is critical that Washington does not jeopardize America’s energy security in the near term and leave consumers vulnerable to rising prices,” Mr. Manchin said. “I continue to call on President Biden to responsibly increase energy production here at home and to reverse course to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built which would have provided our country with up to 900,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada, one of our closest allies.”
Many warn that not prioritizing domestic energy production will only leave the U.S. more reliant on oil-producing nations across the globe, like Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“This is about American energy independence and the fact that hard-working Americans should not depend on foreign actors,” Mr. Manchin said.