(WFXR)– On Wednesday, President Biden announced he will release 15 million barrels of crude oil from the nation’s emergency supply to lower the rise in gas prices.
This is the last of the 180 million barrels President Biden authorized to sell back in March, due to the results of the war in Ukraine. During that time, Americans saw gas prices soar.
So, where does this leave the Strategic Petroleum Reserve?
According to the Department of energy, it can hold roughly 700 million barrels. Currently, it has around 400 million barrels. The department records show levels have not been this low since 1984.
Experts say the release is doing the job, but there could be another problem at hand.
David Bieri is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at Virginia Tech.
He says the President is playing a dangerous game adding that he believes the American people will begin to expect government officials to save us from similar troubles in the future.
“The rapidity with which these reserves have been drawn down in the most recent 6 months is scary,” said Bieri.
He even breaks down some of the histories behind the creation of the nation’s reserve.
In the 1970s, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was never meant for economic policy, instead, it aligned with national defense policy — especially after the oil crisis, which led to petroleum shortages and higher prices all around.
In the 1990s, Congress gave Presidents the authority to use it for natural disasters. In the 2000s, it was used for Hurricane Katrina and other related shortages.
He says the earliest President to tap into the reserve was Ronald Reagan.
“In some ways, we are seeing the democrats playing a game of Reagan-nomics,” said Bieri.
However, he admits that neither the Bush nor Reagan administrations used the nation’s reserve to the extent of President Biden.
Jumping back to the 21st century, Bieri says the current drawdown of the reserve in the past 6 months is massive.
“We are in a very different world right now. We are in a world where since 2019 America actually exports more energy than it imports. So, the logic for having these petroleum reserves has changed,” Bieri said.
His overall conclusion, however, is that these withdrawals from the reserve are not good because they embed future intention of intervention.
From a political standpoint, the polls show gas prices and inflation are top of mind for Americans.
Dr. Karen Hult says this could prove beneficial come November.
“I think there’s always a sense in which presidents who they get this close to an election — it seems to be very close in both the House and the Senate — they feel they have to do something,” said Dr. Hult.
She also admits, while there are many negatives to the President’s decision, there are also some positives.
“It also allows the president to reframe the issue as saying ‘look this would not happen were it not for what’s going on with Russia and Ukraine,’ that suggests that the Saudis and the other oil producers are not our greatest friends,” said Dr. Hult.
She adds, when talking about the opposing views, it does not look like there are strategic aspects to the decision — appearing more like a desperate way for President Biden to win elections and keep the House and the Senate.
“The second is that prices are not low, but they are stabilizing. So, one wonders why to take this action now when gas prices are not terrific, but they are stable,” said Dr. Hult.
The President says the administration will buy oil to rebuild the reserve once crude oil falls below $70 per barrel.