Biden’s Reckless Election Stunt: Draining Strategic Reserves to Lower Gas Prices

Biden’s Reckless Election Stunt: Draining Strategic Reserves to Lower Gas Prices

Representation for Oil Barrels | Credits: Shutterstock

United States: In a daring and imprudent maneuver, the Biden administration declared on Tuesday its intention to release 1 million barrels of gasoline from a reserve in the Northeast, established post-Superstorm Sandy, purportedly to diminish pump prices this summer. This overt endeavor to influence gas prices prior to the election underscores the administration’s readiness to endanger national security for political advantage.

The gasoline will be dispensed from storage facilities in New Jersey and Maine in portions of 100,000 barrels each, fostering a competitive auction process to ensure prompt delivery to local vendors before the July 4 holiday. While the Energy Department asserts this will aid in “reducing expenses for American households and consumers,” the true motive is evident: to garner favor with voters by artificially deflating gas prices, according to certain reports. 

This action follows a legislative directive to divest the decade-old Northeast Reserve and shutter its operations. This reserve, inaugurated during President Obama’s tenure, has remained dormant and incurs an annual upkeep cost of approximately USD 19 million. Its divestiture, offering only marginal respite during a severe scarcity, highlights the administration’s myopia and disregard for strategic foresight.

The average nationwide gasoline price stands at about USD 3.60 per gallon, a 6-cent increase from last year, according to AAA. Drawing from gasoline reserves constitutes one of the few measures a president can employ to mitigate inflation, a significant electoral liability for the incumbent party.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm affirmed that the Biden administration is “intensely focused on reducing pump prices for American households.” Nevertheless, this short-term remedy overlooks the principal function of strategic reserves: to furnish emergency relief during periods of profound national crises rather than manipulating market dynamics for political expediency, as highlighted by certain reports.

US White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre presented this release as part of Biden’s previous attempts to lessen the prices of gas and energy, including drawing on the SPR and funding shifts toward renewable energy. However, Biden’s previous move to draw the SPR in 2022 after the Russia–Ukraine war had put the stock reserve at its most dangerously low levels since the 1980s. This reckless manner of depleting a key member and an asset of national security to make political gains in the short run drew criticism from the Republicans.

All attempts to replenish the SPR, however, have only placed it at around 367.3 million barrels, significantly below or before the Russia-Ukraine war. This makes the US vulnerable in the event that a real crisis in energy will appear as the SPR is expected to be the reserve of the United States’ oil and not a tool for political battles that occur during the elections.

The release of the 42-million-gallon that has to be either transferred or delivered by June 30 in the Northeast reserve is overly sentimental and, at best, would only have a symbolic effect on the prices of gasoline across the country. In the view of GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan on the issue, the reserve corresponds. Since consuming only 7 hours of the total US gasoline consumption, it offers ‘’precarious’’ relief.

This thought process, however, is not only detrimental to the goals of the strategic reserve but also creates a dangerous precedent of using emergencies to advance political agendas. This behavior only contributes to keeping up the appearance that Biden lacks the understanding and the will to bring order to the country and its security.