by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Biden administration is touting its decision to drain America’s emergency oil reserves to historically low levels—and sell millions of barrels to China and other foreign entities—as one of its “top accomplishments in 2022.”
President Joe Biden’s Energy Department in a Dec. 23 press release included its release of “190 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve” as second on its list of top 2022 accomplishments. The department said the reserve sales protected “global energy security”—a far cry from its reasoning behind the sales in April, when the department said a release of 30 million reserve barrels would aid domestic consumers by addressing “the pain Americans are feeling at the pump.”
The rhetorical shift comes after Biden faced bipartisan criticism for selling millions of reserve barrels to foreign entities, including the Chinese government. In April, Biden sold roughly one million barrels to Unipec, the trading arm of the China Petrochemical Corporation, which is wholly owned by the Chinese government. One month later, with domestic gas prices at record highs, more than five million U.S. reserve barrels were sent overseas to Europe and Asia, a move that Reuters said inhibited Biden’s ability to “lower record pump prices” through the sales. As a result of those releases, the United States—which consumes roughly 20 million barrels of oil per day—holds just 372 million barrels, its lowest level since 1983.
Months after Biden’s Chinese fire sale, House Republicans are pledging to stop Beijing from taking advantage of future releases once they elect a speaker and take control of the lower chamber. Rep. Steve Scalise (R., La.) on Friday released a slate of “meaningful, ‘ready-to-go'” bills, including one that would bar the Energy Department from selling oil reserves “to any entity that is under the ownership, control, or influence of the Chinese Communist Party.”