(Joshua Paladino, Headline USA) President Joe Biden has ordered the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to release 180 million barrels of oil over the next 180 days to reduce gas prices, which a former Trump administration official said may violate the law.
Using oil reserves as an economic tool seems to violate the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (pg 873, Sec.2.2), which said the reserve should be used to reduce the “impact of severe energy supply interruptions.” .
In a Washington Examiner op-ed, Mark R. Robeck, the Energy Department‘s former deputy general counsel for energy policy, called Biden’s decision to release 1 million barrels oil per day “unlawful” and harmful to “our national security.”
“In short, Congress imposed a predicate circumstance of a ‘severe energy supply disruption’ for the president and secretary of energy to authorize the sale of crude oil from the SPR, and such a disruption simply does not exist right now,” Robeck wrote.
During former President Barack Obama‘s first term, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was full at about 714 million barrels. The reserve has since fallen to less than 560 million barrels.
Obama authorized the sale of about 200 million barrels.
Former President Donald Trump authorized the sale of about 100 million barrels.
Biden released 50 million barrels last November and 30 million in March, and he will release 180 million more from now until October.
On the current trajectory, the SPR will have 238 million barrels of oil in 2028.
Robeck said the United States must preserve the reserve until a true crisis.
“The unlawful release of oil from the SPR threatens national security by depleting the SPR absent a true supply disruption,” he wrote.
Robeck pointed to potential international conflicts that could make the SPR a vital national security tool.
“If Iran decides the time is right to pursue a show of force in the Middle East and attack Saudi Arabia, we could face an actual worldwide disruption of supply with a depleted reserve of crude oil in the SPR,” he wrote.
He also noted that an unforeseen natural disaster could force the United States to rely on the SPR.
“Similarly, if a Category 5 hurricane hits the Gulf of Mexico and shuts down oil production for weeks, as with Hurricane Katrina, the SPR may not be able to respond to the actual emergency,” he wrote.