President Joe Biden has ordered 50 million barrels of oil to be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an emergency stockpile stored in Texas and Louisiana.
The order, the largest in U.S. history, calls for the release of 32 million barrels in the next few months that will be returned to the reserve later. The administration is accelerating the release of another 18 million barrels that are part of a previous sale Congress authorized.
What will this do? Biden said combating inflation is his top priority. Gas prices currently average $3.40 per gallon, but some gas stations have topped $5 per gallon.
Overall, gas and oil prices are 50 percent higher than a year ago. The coordinated effort along with China, India, and the United Kingdom to tap into reserves is expected to temporarily lower costs, but not until after the holidays.
Biden also asked the head of the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether gas and oil companies are illegally boosting prices. Domestic oil production is down to roughly 11 million barrels daily from 12.8 million before the pandemic.
Biden insisted that using reserves to offset prices will not affect his agenda to move the U.S. toward renewable energy, but Democrats said the short-term fix will preserve American’s reliance on gasoline. Republican critics said the government needs to boost production, not use emergency reserves intended for war or natural disasters.
Biden's move comes a day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a $1 billion gas tax relief plan. While the national average gas price ticked down last week, Florida's surged upward 9 cents, the highest increase in the nation.
—With reporting from J.C. Derrick
This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.