By Rep. Gus Bilirakis
Instead of unleashing domestic energy production to significant and sustained relief at the pump for American consumers, Democrats are continuing to double down on a radical green agenda while trying to take credit for the slight, and most likely temporary, decrease in prices we have seen in recent weeks. As of today, the average price of gas in Florida is $4.08, with the national average hovering around $4.33. While prices are a little better than the nearly $5.00 per gallon we paid just a few weeks ago, Americans are still paying almost $2.00 more per gallon than we were on the day President Biden was sworn into office.
However, that slight dip in fuel prices has come at a VERY high cost to our long-term national security. One of the primary reasons for the recent decrease in gas prices cited by the Biden Administration is the drainage of our Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). The Treasury Department just credited Biden’s historic SPR release with reducing the price of gas by an estimated 17-42 cents per gallon.
When President Biden released millions of barrels of our oil reserves in the last quarter of 2021 to lower the price of gas, Americans saw a short-term reduction in the price of gas.
However, those reductions evaporated once the President stopped dumping our reserves into the international market. In March of this year, President Biden ordered another 180 million barrels of oil to be released from the SPR. As part of that plan, he has been selling one million barrels of oil per day from our nation’s SPR to the highest bidder-- even when that bidder is a company owned by the Chinese government.
The Administration claims it has had no other choice but to sell our emergency reserves to the Chinese oil giant; however, just today House Democrats blocked an amendment on the Floor which would have protected our stockpile and expressly prohibited the sale of America’s strategic crude oil reserves to China.
Blocking that amendment is simply un-American and unconscionable. U.S. reserves, which are at their lowest level since 1986, are designed to be used only in true emergencies, like hurricanes or other catastrophic events. They are not supposed to be used as a political gimmick to provide short-term relief in gas prices. Our reserves have fallen below 500 million barrels. Some projections show that the U.S. SPR will be drained to 130 million barrels by 2031. By contrast, China has 926 million barrels in its reserve.
It also is one of the few countries on the global stage that continues to import Russian and Iranian oil. The America-last policies pursued by the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats are benefitting our leading adversaries while jeopardizing our long-term national security and economic stability.
President Biden, who has referred to steep increases in gas prices as an incredible opportunity to force a transition away from fossil fuels, is merely not responding to global circumstances. Despite the fact that Democrats have blamed the increases on everything from price gouging to Russia’s war, the truth is that the anti-energy agenda of his administration is actively creating the situation hurting American consumers. Here are just a few examples of steps the Administration has taken:
- Killed the Keystone XL Pipeline,
- Announced it would no longer hold court-ordered offshore oil and gas lease sales in Alaska,
- Targeted oil and gas workers by banning new oil and gas leasing on federal land at the behest of Green New Deal enthusiasts,
- Erected a series of regulatory barriers to make domestic drilling more challenging,
- Disincentivized investment in the domestic drilling market,
- Released a Five-Year Leasing plan which identified only 11 potential lease sales, with no guarantee any of those sites would ultimately be approved,
- Stalled over 4,400 pending applications for permits to drill,
- Implemented regulatory and caused inflationary burdens that are thwarting the creation of new, large-scale refineries,
- Declared climate change to be an “emergency” and promised sweeping executive action on his radical Green New Deal agenda –action that would undoubtedly worsen America’s energy crisis,
- Proposed Green New Deal tax hikes that will hammer middle-class families while giving away$550 billion in green welfare subsidies to special interests and the wealthy. Wealthy individuals with up to $500,000 in income would enjoy their own green welfare, including a $12,500 check to buy a luxury electric vehicle.
We must end this Administration's war on domestic energy production by removing the regulatory barriers it has erected, opening up domestic drilling, and restarting the Keystone pipeline. Americans are counting on us to do the right thing while providing much needed significant and lasting relief.
Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis is a Republican representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. He was first elected to Congress on November 7, 2006. Gus serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee. He is the Ranking Member of Consumer Protection & Commerce Subcommittee and a Member of the Health Subcommittee and Communications and Technology Subcommittee.