President Biden on Tuesday announced the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help combat rising gas prices across the country.
The announcement was made jointly with several other nations including China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom.
Out of the 50 million barrels, 32 million will be an exchange over the next several months, the White House said Tuesday. The other 18 million will be an acceleration of an oil sale already authorized by Congress.
“The President stands ready to take additional action, if needed, and is prepared to use his full authorities working in coordination with the rest of the world to maintain adequate supply as we exit the pandemic,” the White House said.
The announcement comes one week after Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into whether oil and gas companies are involved in “illegal conduct” in order to keep prices up, noting “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil-and-gas companies.”
“The bottom line is this: gasoline prices at the pump remain high, even though oil and gas companies’ costs are declining,” Biden wrote in a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan. “The Federal Trade Commission has authority to consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump. I believe you should do so immediately.”
Earlier this month, several Senate Democrats urged the president to take action, as the national average price for a gallon of gasoline sits at the highest it’s been since 2014 ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, per AAA.
In their note to Biden, the 11 lawmakers suggested releasing supply from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and banning crude oil exports to help lower costs.
As of Tuesday, the nationwide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline stood at $3.40, approximately $1.28 more than a year ago, according to AAA.
Shortly following the announcement, former President Donald Trump slammed the move, calling it an “attack” on the Strategic Oil Reserves.
“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 said 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. Is this any way to run a Country?”