WASHINGTON – President Biden expanded his efforts on Wednesday to ease the pain of rising gas prices and reduce America’s exposure to the global energy market, which is becoming more volatile due to the provocations by Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The administration announced $2.8 billion in funding to expand domestic battery production for electric vehicles and the electric grid, a day after the White House said the United States would release millions of barrels of oil from the Petroleum Reserve. Strategy and Mr. Biden will consider additional withdrawals this winter.
The moves underscore the extent to which energy security is now central to the Biden administration’s economic agenda, which has been derailed by soaring inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine. Those concerns come at a dangerous political time, with the midterm elections set to determine the momentum in Washington less than three weeks away.
Biden’s decision to order the release of an additional 15 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was made to address immediate concerns about rising gas prices. That brings the total amount of oil released since Mr Biden authorized the use of the stockpile in March to 180 million barrels.
The Biden administration is poised to resume emergency supplies this winter, despite concerns that depleting reserves could put the nation’s energy security in jeopardy.
With the midterm elections approaching, this is where President Biden stands.
“We call it a read-and-release plan,” Biden said Wednesday. “This allows us to move quickly to prevent oil price spikes and respond to international events.”
Mr. Biden described the release as a bridge to ease the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine while domestic energy producers ramp up production. There are about 400 million barrels left in the stockpile, capable of holding about 700 million barrels.
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In remarks at the White House, Mr. Biden rejected the notion that his administration has limited domestic oil production. Instead, he called on companies to expand production, and said even if demand for oil slows in the coming years, they can still sell it back to the federal government to refill the Oil Stockpile. Strategic field when oil prices fell to about 70 USD/barrel.
The president also accused oil companies of profiteering and warned them against manipulating prices as Americans grapple with inflation.
“As the price of oil falls, we should see the price of the gas station at the pump go down as well,” he said. “My message to US energy companies is that you should not use your profits to buy back shares or to get dividends. Not now. Not while the war was raging. “
Separately on Wednesday, the White House announced that the Department of Energy is awarding $2.8 billion in funding created as part of infrastructure legislation passed earlier this year.
The money will go to 20 companies in 12 states and will be used for projects related to the production of lithium, graphite and nickel used in batteries that power electric vehicles. The funds may take years to bear fruit, but they are part of the Biden administration’s long-term strategy to transition away from internal combustion cars and achieve Biden’s goal of manufacturing. produce half of all new cars sold on electricity by 2030.
But the use of strategic oil reserves has sparked criticism that Mr Biden is putting the nation’s short-term energy security at risk for political purposes.
“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was built for a national energy crisis – not for a Democratic election crisis,” Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming. “Joe Biden is pulling our emergency oil supplies to a 40-year low.”
“The president’s dismal approval ratings are not a good reason to continue raiding the nation’s oil reserves,” said Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Resources Committee. we”.
On Wednesday, Mr. Biden denied that he would release more oil with the midterm elections in mind.
“It’s not politically motivated at all,” Biden said, explaining that he had been working for months to bring down gas prices. “It’s motivating to make sure that I keep pushing what I’ve been pushing for.”