In an effort to combat a sharp rise in oil prices amid Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today urged President Biden to stabilize gas prices and help working families by releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
Drawing down oil from the federal government’s stockpile now and then replacing it later with less expensive crude oil could help temporarily keep gas prices down for Oregonians, strengthen U.S. national security, and be a good deal for taxpayers.
“As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to cause volatility in the global oil market, we are writing to urge you to consider using all of the tools at your disposal to insulate Americans from rising gasoline prices. This includes an additional release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the use of diplomatic pressure to encourage global oil producers to ramp up their output, and restrictions on petroleum exports unless they will advance our national security goals and lower prices for consumers,” Wyden and colleagues wrote.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is an emergency stockpile of petroleum maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy. It is the largest known emergency supply of oil in the world, and its underground salt domes in Louisiana and Texas has an authorized capacity for about 714 million barrels.
According to the Energy Department, the average price paid for oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is – $29.70 per barrel. Today, gas prices surged to more than $100 per barrel for the first time since 2014.
In November, President Biden ordered the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to deal with surging gasoline prices in the U.S. which appeared to put a temporary damper on them.
Crude oil prices represent the biggest factor in terms of the prices that consumers pay at the gas pump. But the cost of refining, distribution expenses, taxes, and rent for the gas station also influence the price at the pump.
The letter was led by U.S. Senator Jack Reed, D- R.I. Along with Wyden, the letter is also signed by U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
The full text of the letter is here.
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