White House: US to release 50M barrels of oil from strategic reserve

WASHINGTON — The United States will release 50 million barrels of oil from its strategic reserve in an effort to lower energy costs, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news

In a White House news release, the president said that the Department of Energy is releasing the barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve “to lower prices for Americans and address the mismatch between demand exiting the pandemic and supply.”

Of the barrels released, 32 million “will be an exchange over the next several months, releasing oil that will eventually return to the” reserve, the White House said. The other 18 million “will be an acceleration into the next several months of a sale of oil that Congress had previously authorized,” according to the news release.

Other countries, including China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom, also are planning to announce similar releases, the White House said.

In a statement obtained by Reuters, former President Donald Trump criticized the decision, framing it as an “attack” on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve aimed at getting “the close to record-setting high oil prices artificially lowered.”

“We were energy independent one year ago, now we are at the mercy of OPEC, gasoline is selling for $7 in parts of California, going up all over the Country, and they are taking oil from our Strategic Reserves,” he said. “Is this any way to run a Country?”

The national average for gas prices Tuesday was just over $3.40 per gallon, up from about $2.11 one year ago, according to the AAA.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute also criticized the move in a statement issued Tuesday.

“The Department of Energy’s reserve should only be used for supply disruptions,” said Christopher Guith, senior vice president of the Global Energy Institute. “Instead of ineffectual band aids, the White House should focus on policies that will encourage domestic production of oil and natural gas.”

Speaking to reporters Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said officials plan to keep tabs on oil companies.

“We will continue to press oil companies who have made record profits and are overseeing what we consider to be price gouging out there,” she said. “When there’s a supply of oil or the price of oil is coming down and the price of gas is not coming down, it does not take an economic expert to know that’s a problem.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.