by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden promised to refill America’s emergency oil reserves at a low enough price to “actually make money for the taxpayers.” Now, his Energy Department says prices are too high to do so, ensuring that the country’s emergency reserves will remain low.
The Biden administration last week rejected all offers it received to purchase oil for the country’s dwindling reserves because those offers “were either too expensive or didn’t meet the required specifications,” Bloomberg reported Friday. The move comes just weeks after the White House said it would “turn a profit for the taxpayers” by buying up to three million reserve barrels at a reduced cost, which Biden’s Energy Department pledged to obtain by February.
Biden’s failure to follow through on the purchase means that America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve will remain at its lowest level since 1983, at least in the short term. When Biden took office, the reserve contained more than 600 million barrels—that number is now less than 400 million. The Energy Department said in a statement that it still plans to replenish the reserves but will only do so “at a price that is a good deal for taxpayers,” making the timing and quantity of any future reserve oil purchase unclear. “We expect to share next steps in our 2023 repurchase plan soon,” a department spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon.
The blunder is also likely to prompt fresh criticism from congressional Republicans, who have long accused the president of mismanaging the country’s oil reserves.
Last year, amid record-high gas prices, Biden opted to release roughly 200 million reserve barrels, a decision his administration said would “address the pain Americans are feeling at the pump.” Instead, Biden sold many of those barrels to the Chinese government and other foreign entities—sales that inhibited his ability to “lower record pump prices” in the United States, according to Reuters.