Get the Latest News Updates

Biden Announces Historic Oil Reserve Release ‘To Ease The Pain’

US President Joe Biden announced Thursday an historic release of oil from the US strategic reserves to drive down prices at the pump as Americans grapple with high gas prices.

In addition to announcing the release of 1 million barrels per day for six months “to ease the pain that families are feeling,” Biden is also calling on Congress to pass legislation that would punish oil companies that do not use existing leases on federal lands after one oil CEO said his firm would not increase production no matter how much prices rose.

Pioneer Chief Executive Officer Scott Sheffield told Bloomberg News in February, “Whether it’s $150 oil, $200 oil, or $100 oil, we’re not going to change our growth plans.”

“If the president wants us to grow, I just don’t think the industry can grow anyway,” he added.

Biden’s actions come ahead of November’s critical midterm elections with the president and Democrats broadly hoping for a turnaround on the economic pain being inflicted on American households by soaring inflation.

The president has sought to pin the formerly historic gas prices, which have since gone down from record highs in early March, on Russia’s war against Ukraine, as well as measures called for by Republicans and Democrats alike to ban Russian gas in response.

“Our family budgets, your family budgets to fill a tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war,” Biden said at the White House. “Our prices are rising because of Putin’s actions. There isn’t enough supply. And the bottom line is if we want lower gas prices, we need to have more oil supply right now.”

That could largely be accomplished, Biden said, by US oil companies who are already “recording their largest profits in years” increasing domestic production instead of sending “those profits to the investors while American families struggling to make ends meet.”

“Enough of lavishing excessive profits on investors and payouts and buybacks when the American people are watching,” said Biden. “Companies have an obligation that goes beyond just their shareholders to their customers, their communities and their country,” he added.

There are 9,000 approved, but unused, oil production permits on federal lands, according to the White House. Biden is appealing to Congress to pass legislation that would mandate fees on companies that have not used approved leases in years, saying they are “hoarding without production.”