Tapping SPR Shows Lack of Coherent Leadership

Tapping SPR Shows Lack of Coherent Leadership

© David Burton 2021

Gasoline Prices

     “The problem with using the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves to drive down fuel prices is it’s a temporary solution that, absent a cohesive long-term energy strategy, won’t change the cost trajectory.
     “{Toward the end of November 2021,} President Joe Biden . . . ordered the release of 50 million barrels from the 605 million barrel oil reserve with the expressed goal of checking steadily rising gasoline and heating fuel prices. {This was} the first time an emergency release of the reserve has been used to control prices absent a disruption in oil production caused by natural disasters or foreign conflicts.
     “Releasing the reserves is a purely political move by Biden. While supplies are tight, there have been no shortages of gasoline or fuel oil.
[Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “The release comes after Russia and the OPEC oil-producing nations rebuffed the president’s pleas to boost their production to meet the demands of a recovering economy. . .
      - - -
     “And if OPEC decides to tighten its exports in response when it meets in the coming days, the actual effect may be higher prices.
     “Meanwhile, demand for petroleum is expected to continue to increase, while domestic oil production is not keeping pace.
     “{Biden’s move is a clear demonstration of the absence of an coherent administration policy regarding America’s consumption of carbon-producing petroleum.} Ramping up production at home is troublesome for Biden, since it runs contrary to his goal of weaning the nation off fossil fuels. He has halted construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would have carried oil from Canada to the U.S., and has placed wide swaths of federal land and coastal waters off-limits for oil and gas exploration and drilling. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “. . . The more Biden restricts oil and gas production, the higher prices will go. And while he can temporarily shield Americans from the impact with gimmicks such as releasing the strategic reserves, the reality is that his overall approach to energy will continue to push up costs.” [1]

     “The purpose of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is to maintain oil flow to refineries during national emergencies when oil supplies are disrupted. What national emergency prompted President Biden to order the release of 50 million barrels?” (Ref. 2)

     “Not since the coordinated release of emergency reserves in September 2011, following the Libyan uprising, have we had this much taken out of the storage caverns in a single week. (Ref. 3)

     America’s strategic oil reserves were supposed to be petroleum reserves to be used in a national emergency such as a war where imported oil might be cut off. Instead, we see president Biden committing the reserves in a political move to save his supporters a few dollars at the gasoline pump. We have a president who has reduced America’s production of petroleum by placing large tracts of federal land and coastal waters off-limits for oil and gas exploration and drilling. He has shut off a supply of Canadian oil by cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline project. He has caved in to the environmental extremists by committing the U.S. to a precipitous reduction in carbon emissions without considering the disastrous impact on the American economy of such a move. President Biden then orders the release of 50 million barrels of oil from reserves that were designated “for emergencies only” to save drivers a few pennies at the pump and give the appearance that he and his Democratic accomplices were helping the poor American driver avoid financial disaster. These moves do not signify strong and decisive leadership! Instead, what they do show is nothing but a total lack of coherent leadership!

     “While there was plenty of criticism as to whether the release would do what Biden intended, i.e., lower prices, . . . {there were} two objections . . . to using the SPR {Strategic Petroleum Reserves} to lower gas prices that have risen due to market forces, i.e., demand exceeding supply.
     " ‘The Biden administration’s decision to release oil from U.S. reserves is a 'mistake,' {stated} former U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette’ . . .
     “ ‘I do think it’s a bad policy choice. There’s no question about that,’ he {said} one day after President Joe Biden announced that 50 million barrels of oil would be released from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
      - - -
     “The SPR in the U.S. is a national security asset meant to protect the country and its citizens from supply disruptions, such as during emergency situations, said Brouillette . . .
     “ ‘It’s not a supply emergency, and the only emergency I can … see in this case is a political emergency,’ he said.
     “The Independent Petroleum Association of America, representing represented independent oil and natural gas producers, issued a statement two weeks prior to Biden's announcement of the pending release. [Boldeds are original]
     “Maintaining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is an important national security tool to combat disruptions in the oil market. The reserve is intended to be America’s insurance policy against a severe oil supply disruption or a severe economic disruption.
     “We strongly oppose the use of oil stockpiles to affect gasoline prices. Market interference makes us all more vulnerable and is counterproductive to long-term adjustments in the marketplace. A better solution is to enhance, not stifle or shut-down, America’s leadership in natural gas and oil production.
     “The Biden administration did seek to increase oil supply to reduce prices, although not domestically, by asking OPEC and Russia to expand output. They turned him down.” [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 2)

     Biden has been inconsistent. He first canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and then ordered the release of oil from the SPR. Canceling “the permit for the Keystone XL - a pipeline that would have created tens of thousands of ‘good, paying, union jobs’ (to quote Biden’s favorite refrain) on both sides of the border {was a big mistake in the first place). The pipeline is the cleanest, least carbon-intensive way of transporting oil that will now most likely be moved by rail and by truck. . . {All} Biden needed to do was leave the Keystone XL in place. Instead, he pursued a symbolic victory to appease radical environmentalists, increasing emissions while killing jobs and undermining America’s hard-fought energy independence.” (Ref. 4)

     And what have been the results to date of the President’s “bold” move to alleviate the supposed “crisis”? The release of 50 million barrels of petroleum from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) had a negligible effect on gas prices!

     And yet – “President Biden may release more oil from the United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve — even though a similar move from the administration had a negligible effect on gas prices.
     “Amos Hochstein — the White House’s Senior Advisor for Energy Security — told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble that releasing oil from the reserve ‘is a tool that was available to us and will be available again.’
      - - -
     “According to the United States Energy Information Administration, however, the United States consumed roughly 18.19 million barrels of petroleum per day in 2020 — meaning that the release of 50 million barrels would only equate to 2.5 days’ worth of consumption. [Emphasis mine] As Reuters explained, ‘Analysts have warned an SPR release would only produce a short-term effect in the market, as it would not increase U.S. production capacity.’ “ (Ref. 4)

     With Americans paying an average of 50 percent more at the pump than this time last year, Biden said the largest release in history from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) showed he was "taking action."
     Or at least his administration appeared to be taking action, which was just as important. Americans may be frustrated with inflation at a 30-year high and skyrocketing prices, but there are questions over whether tackling trying economic circumstances is what the SPR was intended for. "The purpose of the SPR is for a supply-side emergency . . . like a hurricane or a war," said an energy supply expert, "This is not a real supply-side emergency." "Bad poll numbers are not a good reason to release oil from the SPR," he told Newsweek.
     A senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute, was more critical. "Instead of ineffectual band aids, the White House should focus on policies that will encourage domestic production of oil and natural gas," he said in a statement.
     Meanwhile, The Washington Post's editorial board accused Biden of "the two-step ritual that presidents perform to deflect voter anger over rising gasoline prices." The first is to order a probe into gas price gouging and the second was to release oil from the SPR. "These moves accomplish one thing: making it appear that the president is doing something about gas prices. "The Post's op-ed Wednesday said that Biden should instead focus on increasing domestic oil production and decreasing domestic oil consumption.[5]

     Biden's foolish effort to reduce oil prices by tapping America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves is a failure!

     The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a stockpile maintained by the Energy Department to preserve access to oil in case of natural disasters, national security issues and other events. Released oil from the U.S. reserves can take as long as two weeks to reach the markets from where it is stored in underground salt domes in the Gulf Coast. But the release of petroleum from the reserves is a “Fool's Mission”. Price manipulation is not strategic and should not even be attempted. Despite the news of the petroleum release, oil prices continued to rise. If prices do decline later, it will not be due to release of reserves but rather because of natural forces.
     Judging from the market reaction, a rise in the price of crude, the administration’s action already has failed. And looking ahead, the release of 2-3 days of supply is essentially meaningless, better saved for a true emergency. The president’s actions are an utterly desperate attempt to stop retail gasoline prices soaring as the president’s approval rating plunges ever lower. But, while the US SPR was being reduced for 10 straight weeks, during which more than 15 million barrels of crude were withdrawn, prices for gas at the pump rose over 7%.[6]

     What we have been witnessing is a president who - with one hand - takes damaging economic steps to decrease America’s consumption, importation, and production of petroleum, while - with the other hand – unsuccessfully tries to drive down the price of gasoline which will continue to increase America’s consumption of petroleum. Do these actions, in any way, demonstrate effective and coherent leadership by our president???

     When he announced that he would release more oil from the American Strategic Petroleum Reserve, President Joe Biden told the American people he was doing everything possible to bring down gas prices at the pump. That wasn’t true! The truth was that his administration and the climate change crazies had declared war on American energy. Biden and the environmental Getapo had reduced American fossile fuel production, rusulting in the increase of the price of gasloine, heating oil, natural gas and all other fossile fuel products.
     They want high oil and gas prices. The Biden master plan is for American oil and gas production and consumption to go to zero over the next 15 to 20 years. How are they working to achieve that goal? By making oil and gas so expensive and so unavailable that Americans will be forced to use alternatives.
     The fact that gasoline is roughly $1.25 more expensive per gallon today under Biden than it was less than a year ago under former President Donald Trump didn’t happen by accident. This was not a result of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, that could knock out our oil facilities. This was by design.
     The progressive left believes that they can change the temperature of the planet by forcing American energy companies to produce less oil and to force Americans to use less of it. How do you get people to buy less of something? You raise its price. This is basic high-school introductory economics.
     Some on the Biden team have inadvertently admitted this. One said she wants to “bankrupt” U.S. oil, gas and coal companies - and apparently has no problem putting roughly 5 million Americans into unemployment lines.
     U.S. oil production is down roughly 2 million barrels a day from the peak production under Trump prior to COVID, yet Biden recently blamed high oil prices on the Saudis and the OPEC nations for holding back supply. Hello! That is exactly what cartels do. They use their market power to jack up the prices so they can maximize their profits.
     Trump broke the back of OPEC by making the U.S. the dominant energy-producing nation in the world. Biden has handed back that power to the Arab oil sheikhs and Vladimir Putin in Russia. Now they are gouging us. What a shock!
     In August of 2021,Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, said that Texas “can easily produce that oil” if Biden “will just stay out of the way.” But he won’t! The Biden administration strategy is to force-feed the American economy expensive, unreliable and made-in-China wind and solar energy. His $3 trillion Build Back Better bill would dole out more than $500 billion of taxpayer dollars to the wind, solar and electric vehicle industry to break the back of oil and gas production. If this energy source is so efficient, why does it need a half trillion dollars of your and my money?
     Meanwhile, nearly every Biden energy related action has been deliberately aimed at reducing U.S. oil and gas production - from killing the Keystone XL pipeline to trying to shut down other existing natural gas pipelines in the Midwest (The result? - home heating costs are going way up this winter), to shutting down much of Alaskan oil production, to new Environmental Protection Agency rules making it very difficult and expensive to drill for oil and gas here in America. He is also preventing the mining of American coal, which is still one of the dominant sources of electric power around the world. He also wants to raise taxes on the oil and gas industry.
     Now, let’s be honest. Do any of these policies suggest that Biden and his liberal friends in the green-energy movement want to keep oil and gas prices low? If you answered yes to that, you probably believe that Al Gore invented the internet.[7]


  1. Oil release a gimmick that won’t provide US with long-term relief, Boston Herald: Page 14, 30 November 2021.
  2. Here’s Why Biden Was Forced To Beg Xi To Release Oil From China’s SPR, NATION AND STATE,
    17 November 2021.
  3. Biden Orders Release from Strategic Petroleum Reserve: What's the Emergency?, Irvin Dawid, strong>Planetizen,
    29 November 2021.
  4. Biden Could Release More Oil From Strategic Reserves, Even Though First Release Didn’t Move Gas Prices,
    Ben Zeisloft, DAILYWIRE, 29 November 2021.
  5. Joe Biden Releasing Oil Reserves Seen As Pointless Political Move, Brendan Cole, Newsweek, 24 November 2021.
  6. Biden's Foolish Effort to Reduce Oil Prices by Tapping Reserves Will Fail, Mish, MISH TALK, 23 November 2021.
  7. Biden’s end game – higher gasoline prices, Stephen Moore, Boston Herald: Page 15, 16 December 2021.


  16 December 2021 {Article 506; Politics 73}    
Go back to the top of the page