NOVEMBER 23, 2021
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm doesn’t know how many barrels of oil the U.S. consumes on a daily basis.
“I don’t have that number in front of me,” Granholm said in response to the question Tuesday at a White House press briefing after President Joe Biden tapped the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to bring down gas prices.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration run by Granholm’s own department, Americans used an average of just more than 18 million barrels a day. On Tuesday, Biden ordered the release of 50 million barrels, or less than three days of supply.
The president’s decision to tap the oil reserves maintained for emergencies such as a hurricane hampering Gulf Coast refineries underscores the administration’s desperation to bring down seven-year high gas prices. Soaring fuel costs engineered by the White House war on fossil fuels and compounded by inflation have helped tank the president’s approval ratings as Americans pinch pennies going into the holidays. Biden’s approval rating hovers at just more than 41 percent in the RealClear aggregate.
In 2005, President George W. Bush released 11 million barrels in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, 14 years after his father released 17 million during the first Gulf War. The Trump administration tapped into the reserves in 2017 to release 5 million barrels after Hurricane Harvey devastated southeast Texas.
Biden’s use of reserves, however, comes at no such emergency. Instead, Biden is using the reserves as a political tool to alleviate the pain of his own making, where the price of oil has eclipsed $80 per barrel for the first time in nearly a decade. Prices, however, often exceeded $80 per barrel when Biden was vice president under President Obama.
In 2000, then-President Bill Clinton was also accused of inappropriately using the reserves as a political football to bring down gas prices ahead of the November contest.
“President Clinton ordered the release today of 30 million barrels of oil from the nation’s emergency reserve over the next month,” the New York Times reported in September of the election year, “only a day after Vice President Al Gore injected the issue into the presidential campaign.”