The Republican majority in the House of Representatives wants future Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) sales to be tied to increased fossil fuel production. To that end, the GOP will vote this week on a bill establishing this requirement on energy policy.
Increased production would involve drilling on federal land, something the Biden Administration has already opposed. The bill, known as the H.R. 21 Strategic Production Response Act was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman and Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and states that production must be increased if and when a sale of the SPR is desired:
H.R. 21 would prohibit drawdowns and sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, except during severe interruptions of the energy supply, unless the Department of Energy (DOE) developed a plan to increase the share of federal land that is leased for oil and gas production. The bill would direct DOE to develop such a plan in consultation with the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and the Interior.
Such legislation must now be approved by the House. If the bill obtains a majority, as it will, it will face the possible rejection of the Senate, where there is a greater number of Democratic seats. The Biden Administration, through Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, has already promised to veto the regulation:
If Congress passed H.R. 21, the President would veto it. He will not allow the American people to suffer because of the retrograde agenda that House Republicans are pushing.
"Biden used the SPR as a political bailout"
With the daily sale of one million barrels of oil, the SPR fell to 434.1 million barrels, its lowest level since 1984. The purpose of releasing the barrels was, according to the Biden Administration, to keep the price of oil under control, which had been rising even before the war in Ukraine.
The Republican approach to SPR reduction is quite different. McMorris Rodgers stated:
The SPR is a strategic asset meant for emergencies. President Biden used it as an election-year political bailout. H.R. 21 would require the administration to unleash American energy production if it uses the SPR for non-emergency reasons.
The SPR is a strategic asset meant for emergencies.
President Biden used it as an election-year political bailout.
H.R. 21 would require the administration to unleash American energy production if it uses the SPR for non-emergency reasons.
— CathyMcMorrisRodgers (@cathymcmorris) January 26, 2023
In May of last year, the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee clarified that that rise in gasoline prices was not the result of "price gouging or the Putin price hike," but was rather the result of "a Biden war on American energy."
Steve Scalise, Republican leader in the House of Representatives, accused Biden of "looting" the SPR to cover up his ineffectiveness on energy:
This is not complicated. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is for emergencies. Yet Biden has raided 40% of it to cover his bad energy policies. That's why the House GOP majority will pass a bill that requires a replenishment plan before he raids it for political purposes.
This isn't complicated.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is for emergencies.
Yet Biden has raided 40% of it to cover for his bad energy policies.
That's why the House GOP Majority will pass a bill that requires a replenishment plan before he raids it for political purposes. pic.twitter.com/10RYRQTdQo
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) January 25, 2023
What if Democratic senators ally with the Republican wing?
Some blue senators could side with the Republicans and vote in favor of the bill, which happened two weeks ago.
On January 13, the House of Representatives passed a bill that vetoed the sale of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to any entity that is under the control of the Communist Party of China, except those products derived from crude oil that are not exported to the Asian country.
What is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for?
The SPR was created with the objective of not suffering the consequences of oil or gas supply interruptions. In addition, the United States can meet its obligations under the international energy program.
These fossil fuel reserves are stored in large underground tanks located along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.