Former President Donald Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) decried President Joe Biden for his decision to pull from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) amid skyrocketing energy costs.
The announcement, made in a White House press release, comes as the United States faces unprecedented inflation, which has had the most notable effect on the energy sector.
According to the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), October saw a 30 percent increase in the price of all sources of energy while the price of gasoline itself increased by a staggering 49.6 percent.
Democrats and Republicans are divided on the reasons for these increasing prices.
Democrats have blamed collusion by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), who have reduced fuel production over the past several months in order to raise prices. Biden has undertaken extensive negotiations with the organization, but these have largely been fruitless.
Republicans, while agreeing that OPEC has played a part in the crisis, have blamed Biden’s “anti-American” domestic energy policies.
Since taking office, Biden has made extensive changes to the energy policies of his predecessor, who led America to becoming energy independent for the first time in decades. Biden, who promised during his campaign to “transition away from the fossil fuel industry,” wasted no time in halting construction on the Keystone XL pipeline and placing a moratorium on leasing federal lands to natural gas and oil companies.
According to Republican critics, it is these policies in conjunction with OPEC that have caused fuel prices to skyrocket.
Seeing that the crisis was only worsening, a group of Democratic senators called on the president in early November to withdraw fuel from the SPR, a necessity rarely seen in the United States; Historically, such withdrawals have been in response to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.
On Tuesday, Biden acceded to his party’s request and authorized a withdrawal from the SPR.
“President Biden is using every tool available to him to work to lower prices and address the lack of supply,” the White House announcement said. “Today, the President is announcing that the Department of Energy will make available releases of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower prices for Americans and address the mismatch between demand exiting the pandemic and supply.”
In contrast to other uses of the SPR supply, this withdrawal is meant only to drop gas prices amid sweeping changes in domestic energy policy since Biden took office.
Former President Donald Trump, who has remained active in political spheres since leaving office in January, slammed the move.
“For decades our Country’s very important Strategic Oil Reserves were low or virtually empty in that no President wanted to pay the price of filling them up. I filled them up three years ago, right to the top, when oil prices were very low. Those reserves are meant to be used for serious emergencies, like war, and nothing else,” Trump wrote in a statement. “Now I understand that Joe Biden will be announcing an ‘attack’ on the newly brimming Strategic Oil Reserves so that he could get 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 added. “Is this any way to run a Country?”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also criticized the move.
“What an abuse of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by the Biden Administration,” Graham said in a tweet. Like Trump, Graham argued that the SPR “is designed to deal with national emergencies, not correct bad policy.”
“The release of 50 million barrels is a Band-Aid,” Graham continued. “The root cause is the Democratic war on fossil fuel production in America.”
Graham also took a jab at Democrats’ Build Back Better bill, currently awaiting consideration by the Senate, which he said would worsen the crisis.
That bill, Graham said, “will dramatically decrease domestic oil production. It’s a bad bill for American energy independence, and it will make the American oil and gas supply worse in every way.”