Sen. Josh Hawley is calling for an immediate investigation into President Biden’s release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to foreign countries including China.
In a letter to the Energy Department inspector general, the Missouri Republican said it is incumbent upon the watchdog “to determine the possibility of gross administrative misconduct with respect to these sales which may damage American energy security.”
“While Americans are paying record gasoline and diesel fuel prices, the Biden administration appears to have been letting our strategic oil stockpiles flow to foreign countries and entities,” Mr. Hawley wrote. “Critically, the American people deserve answers as to how exactly the Department justified sending oil from the SPR to China. DOE’s recent transfer of nearly one million barrels of oil to UNIPEC is just one concerning example.”
More than 5 million barrels of oil from the SPR have been exported to Europe and Asia since President Biden tapped the resource for the stated purpose of bringing down the soaring prices at the pump.
The exports came amid a historic release of 1 million barrels per day from the reserve, which Mr. Biden has authorized through October, in one of his efforts to ease fuel costs.
The White House plans to release up to 260 million barrels from reserves by October of this year, bringing the reserves to their lowest point since 1985.
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Phillips 66 shipped roughly 470,000 barrels from a Texas reserve site to Italy, Reuters reported earlier this month. Atlantic Trading & Marketing, a U.S. subsidiary of TotalEnergies, a French oil company, exported more than 1.1 million barrels.
Other shipments from the reserves made their way to the Netherlands, India and China, the outlet reported.
Mr. Hawley is calling on the Energy Department’s IG to provide Congress with an assessment of the DOE’s internal controls to prevent the transfer of oil reserves to foreign entities with ties to China, how many barrels were ultimately released to foreign markets, and whether the department consulted with the Defense Department on the release of oil from the reserves.
“The process by which oil reserves were released to foreign adversaries such as China merits such investigation,” Mr. Hawley wrote.