Republicans PASS bill blocking Biden from selling oil barrels from the emergency Strategic Petroleum Reserve unless he offsets sales with more drilling leases
- The measure passed 221-205, with one Democrat – Rep. Jared Golden of Maine – joining Republicans in voting for the bill
- Senate Republicans introduced a companion bill in the upper chamber Friday, but it’s unlikely to get a vote under Democratic control
- Energy sec could sell SPR reserves only if oil and gas leases on federal lands were offered in exchange
The House on Friday passed a bill that requires new federal lands and waters leases for oil and gas companies each time the Energy Secretary releases oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
The measure passed 221-205, with one Democrat – Rep. Jared Golden of Maine – joining Republicans in voting for the bill.
Senate Republicans introduced a companion bill in the upper chamber Friday, but it’s unlikely to get a vote under Democratic control.
The proposal would allow the Energy secretary to sell, exchange or loan federal crude without offering a plan to offer more federal leases to drillers only in the case of emergencies.
The House on Friday passed a bill that requires new federal lands and waters leases for oil and gas companies each time the Energy Secretary releases oil from the SPR
The Friday bill passed after hours of voting on amendments, as the legislation was voted on through ‘modified open rule,’ meaning any House member could offer their own amendment. It was the first time in seven years legislation had been voted on that way after Republicans took control.
Dozens of amendments got votes, and a handful were passed, including ones that restricted leasing in coastal areas and increased congressional oversight over the leasing process.
The bill came after House Republicans earlier this month voted to ban the president from selling SPR reserves to China. With that vote 113 Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill. An amendment on Friday’s bill expanded the ban from just China to include more U.S. adversaries like Russia and Iran.
The Biden administration last year drained the SPR more than any other president in modern history, selling off 180 million barrels of oil to counter supply snags brought on by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
As a result stocks of federal oil this month dropped to half the reserve’s capacity of 714 million barrels, the lowest level since 1983.
‘More than 250 million barrels of oil, approximately 40% of the reserve, has been drawn down in less than two years—more than all former presidents in history, combined, all to cover up historically high gas prices in an election year,’ Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-sponsor of the bill, said on the House floor. ‘That’s irresponsible.’
Rep. Frank Pallone, ranking member of the Energy Committee, defended the releases.
‘By releasing from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Biden administration helped bring down gas prices by over $1.50 a gallon,’ he said on the floor. ‘Republicans call that politicizing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but I call that providing real relief for the American people at the gas pump.’
Republicans criticized Biden draining the reserve and blamed the president for discouraging domestic oil production. They were irate at reports that the Biden administration in July sold nearly a million barrels to a state-owned Chinese firm which Hunter Biden’s private equity firm held a $1.7 billion stake, reports say.
At the same time it emerged five million barrels of oil have been sent abroad, after the White House claimed releasing them would help ease Americans’ pain at the pump.