House Republicans pass legislation limiting movements in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
A maze of crude oil pipelines and equipment can be seen at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, with the American and Texas flags flying in the background.
Richard Carson | Reuters
WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill aimed at limiting the president’s ability to tap the country’s strategic oil reserve for reasons other than “disruption serious in energy supplies.”
The law aims to prevent a repeat of President Joe Biden’s multiple exits from the SPR in 2022, which Republicans say should lower consumer gas prices ahead of the midterm elections. the term.
The bill passed by a close vote of 221 against 205 after more than six hours of individual House votes on various proposed changes.
The law, passed on Friday, titled the Strategic Production Response Act, prohibits all new claims on the SPR until federal agencies develop a plan to lease state land for oil production and the -gas “in the same percentage as the percentage of oil….” are reduced,” says the text of the law.
Despite passing the House of Representatives, it is all but certain that the legislation will never come into effect. It lacks the support to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House has said Biden will vote if it ever gets to his desk.
Days before the vote, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said at a White House news briefing that the bill “imposes unnecessary and unhelpful restrictions on when the SPR can be used to support the supply.”
“It brings no tangible benefit to the American people,” Granholm told reporters. “Instead, it affects our ability to respond to an international emergency … a natural disaster or pipeline failure at home.”
The White House has been arguing that the SPR releases over the past year were necessary to offset increases in pump prices triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
However, Republicans counter that the size of the total release in 2022, 180 million barrels, was excessive and that individual releases and announcements of future releases were timed to provide maximum political benefit to Democrats.
Over the past year, the total amount of oil in the reserve has fallen to about 380 million barrels, the lowest level since 1984, raising concerns about energy security.
When Biden took office in 2021, the SPR contained 638 million barrels.
Friday’s legislation marked the second time the GOP-controlled House passed legislation related to the SPR. The first banned the sale of oil reserves to Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. It was passed with bipartisan support.
After Friday’s passage, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, welcomed the bill’s lead sponsor.
“President Biden has turned a long-standing bipartisan strategic asset, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, into a political tool to cover up the consequences of his costly green rush agenda,” she said in a statement.
The legislation “provides a way to make energy more affordable and reliable for Americans while preserving the vital and central purpose of the SPR – providing oil supplies to Americans in genuine emergencies and not diverting them for non-political purposes. of emergency.” , she added.