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U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on gas prices in the United States from the South Court Auditorium of the White House on March 31, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on gas prices in the United States from the South Court Auditorium of the White House on March 31, 2022 in Washington, D.C. During his remarks, Biden announced that he is authorizing the release of barrels of oil from oil reserves over the next six months in an attempt to help ease the price of gas. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Climate Groups Warn Biden Oil Reserve Release Will Open Drilling 'Floodgates'

"Trying to squeeze more oil from public lands and dumping more oil on the market will only deepen our dependence on fossil fuels," said one critic.

Andrea Germanos

President Joe Biden's Thursday announcement of a record release from the nation's strategic petroleum reserve alongside a boost in domestic oil production was denounced as a disastrous response to soaring U.S. gasoline prices by advocates of urgent climate action.

"Biden is tragically missing the moment to fully deploy his authority under the Defense Production Act to turbocharge renewable energy."

A White House statement describes the measures as part of an approach to address Russian President Vladimir "Putin's price hike," blaming the increased gas prices across the nation on supply issues related to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

"Companies that continue to sit on non-producing acres will have to choose whether to start producing or pay a fee for each idled well and unused acre," the administration said.

The president also announced an "unprecedented" release of one million barrels per day over the next six months, a total of 180 million barrels to bolster a supply the White House said would serve as a "bridge" until the boost in domestic production comes later this year.

The administration, which earlier this month banned imports of Russian fuels, has faced sustained demands from experts and green groups to respond to the moment not by doubling down on oil and gas but by pouring resources into a renewable energy transition that both addresses the climate emergency and reduces reliance on authoritarian states.

Thursday's announcement, which also included a push for domestic production of minerals for clean energy storage, was met with condemnation from climate experts and advocates.

According to climate organizer Jamie Henn, director of Fossil Free Media, the strategic reserve release fails to tackle "the root cause of these high prices: Big Oil's coordinated campaign to gouge Americans at the pump."

Backing up that critique, a new Public Citizen report out Thursday details how fossil fuel giants in the U are intentionally keeping production down to boost profits.

Henn suggested a better response to rising gasoline prices would be passage of bicameral legislation introduced earlier this month that would put a windfall tax on Big Oil and guarantee "immediate relief to Americans without undermining the administration's climate goals." The oil giants, he said, "should pay for the problem they've created."

Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity, was similarly critical of the announcement.

"Trying to squeeze more oil from public lands and dumping more oil on the market will only deepen our dependence on fossil fuels and open the floodgates to more oil and gas extraction when we should be going in the opposite direction," she said.

Congress must "find other ways to ease gas prices, including direct relief from the fossil fuel industry’s enormous profits," said Spivak.

"Instead, Biden is tragically missing the moment to fully deploy his authority under the Defense Production Act to turbocharge renewable energy and efficiency manufacturing," she said.

Spivak further warned that Biden's order stands to unleash "irreversible harm to our public lands and fan the flames of the climate emergency."


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