House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Energy Subcommittee Republican Leader Fred Upton (R-MI) sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm directing her to provide information on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) management of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve (NEHHOR), and how China is taking advantage of the Biden administration’s use of our strategic fuel reserves.

The reserves, to be used in emergencies such as wars or natural disasters, have been depleted by the Biden administration in a failed attempt to distract from the dangerous course its anti-American energy policies have put the United States on with high gas prices and less oil and gas production. The administration has already tapped the SPR and may tap the NEHHOR for diesel fuel.

The members raise the national security implications of using up our strategic fuel reserves recklessly while other countries stock up, especially China. China has been purchasing crude oil, including reportedly from the U.S.’s SPR, in order to build up its own stockpiles.

The Biden administration has worked to keep American oil and gas in the ground, drained our fuel reserves, and allowed China to build its own fuel reserves at the expense of American taxpayers, all of which compromises our energy security and national security.

LETTER EXCERPT: “It is imperative that DOE maintain the nation’s petroleum reserves in a manner that does not limit our ability to prevent or reduce the adverse impacts of true energy supply shortages. Even while the United States is a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products, the SPR must maintain sufficient inventory and operational capabilities to mitigate potential interruptions, such as those that occurred in recent years following hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. This is critical for America’s energy security and national security.

The Biden administration is depleting the nation’s petroleum reserves, while allowing OPEC, Russia, and China to gain geopolitical leverage over the United States. As you know, in November 2021, President Biden announced a 50-million-barrel release from the SPR that was supposed to be in tandem with other importing countries, including China. In reality, China ramped up its purchases of crude oil from Russia and the United States to boost its own reserves, even as oil prices surged and President Biden called for a coordinated release. China is reportedly in talks with Russia to buy even more oil for its strategic reserves, while the United States and the E.U. pledged to ban Russian imports. As a result, China may now control the world’s largest stockpile of oil, with total crude inventories estimated at 950 million barrels.”

The members demand that Secretary Granholm answer several questions by June 16, 2022, including the following:

  • Energy prices have been steadily rising prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Despite President Biden’s announcement of the largest SPR drawdown in history, gasoline prices continue to surpass record highs with the national average now $4.67 per gallon.
    • What effect have the recent SPR releases had on U.S. gasoline prices?
  • The SPR was once the largest government owned stockpile of oil in the world; however, at the current rate of releases, it could be nearly depleted within the decade. Meanwhile, Asia’s biggest importers – China, India, Japan, and South Korea – have expanded their SPR capacity.
    • Please provide an assessment of global strategic petroleum reserves and stockholding agreements.
    • Which non-IEA (International Energy Agency) member countries maintain the largest petroleum reserves?
  • It has been reported that China is purchasing crude oil from the SPR to build its own strategic stocks.
    • How many barrels of SPR crude oil have been exported to foreign countries?
    • Which countries are the top buyers of SPR crude oil and how much have they purchased?
  • Has DOE identified the optimal size and operational capabilities of the SPR and NEHHOR? If so, please provide that information. If not, please explain why this has not been done.
  • What are the plans to refill the SPR? And NEHHOR?
  • Has DOE developed a plan to execute the congressionally directed SPR sales in combination with the emergency sales announced by the Biden Administration? If so, please explain that plan.
  • How was it determined that the SPR sales announced by the Biden Administration would occur through October 2022?
  • In November 2021, President Biden announced a 50-million-barrel release from the SPR, supposedly in tandem with other major energy consuming nations, including China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom.
    • How has China’s refusal to cooperate reduced the impact of the coordinated release?

CLICK HERE to read the letter to Secretary Granholm.

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