Biden is obsessed with lower gas prices but he has limited power, says Energy Secretary

“He’s obsessed with the fact that gas prices are so high and people are suffering,” Granholm told CNN on Tuesday after a rare visit to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the country’s emergency oil stockpile.

“The president doesn’t control the price,” the former Michigan governor said during the interview at a General Electric wind facility in New Orleans.

Granholm was speaking hours after visiting Bayou Choctaw, one of the SPR’s four main oil storage sites. Located nearly 100 miles west of New Orleans, Louisiana’s heavily fortified facility is the busiest since it opened in 1987 as authorities race to get emergency barrels to market.

Flanked by state and local officials, Granholm received a briefing from SPR staff on Tuesday on how the system responds to supply shortages like the current one.

Surrounded by barbed-wire fencing and protected by electronic alarm systems and security dogs, the facility includes a maze of pipes and sophisticated high-pressure pumps used to inject or, more recently, extract stored oil. deep underground.

The oil is stored in caverns 2,000 feet below the surface inside salt domes. The caverns are massive – deep enough to stack the Washington Monument four times – and each contains around 10 million barrels of crude oil.

“Everything is still on the table”

Steadily rising prices at the pump — the national average hit a record $4.60 a gallon on Wednesday, up 51% from a year ago — is forcing U.S. officials to consider even more interventions .
When asked if the Biden administration was seriously considering additional measures, such as banning US oil exports, Granholm said, “Everything is still on the table.”

However, some industry experts have warned that a ban on U.S. crude shipments overseas would only inflate global oil prices, on which pump prices are based.

Granholm added that Biden’s advisers are “pressure testing” a series of measures to ensure there are no unintended consequences.


Gas prices initially retreated after Biden announced a record release of 180 million barrels of oil from the SPR in late March following disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the relief proved temporary, and today the national average price per gallon is 37 cents higher than it was the day Biden announced the unprecedented milestone.

Granholm defended the SPR strategy, saying it is an effort to match supply to demand and that other world events also influence prices, including the war in Ukraine and the Covid lockdowns in China.

The Biden administration is now releasing so much emergency oil, on top of congressionally mandated sales to boost revenue, that some in the energy industry doubted the SPR could even pump that much crude in one go. .

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has called out Big Oil for putting profit before what's good for its fellow citizens.
Still, SPR officials said the system has been able to manage drawdowns with minimal problems, despite the reserve now holding the lowest amount of oil since 1987.

“It’s pretty mind-blowing that we’re able to do this,” Paul Oosterling, project manager at the SPR Office of Project Management, told reporters.

Technically, the SPR could supply even more oil: the system has a maximum withdrawal capacity of 4.2 million barrels per day.

Climate ambition meets economic reality

Biden ran on the most aggressive climate agenda of anyone elected president. Yet he is now draining oil from the SPR at a record pace, urging US oil and gas companies to pump more oil and trying to persuade OPEC to increase supply.

When asked if it was an awkward juxtaposition, Granholm replied, “it responds to the current situation.”

“You can walk and chew gum. You can do both,” Granholm said. “The fact that we are paying these outrageous prices is almost an exclamation point that we need to switch to clean energy so that we are not in this position in the future.”

Soaring gas prices are putting pressure on families, forcing them to make tough decisions about their finances.

The global economy is facing

“The people who are hurting the most are the people who are hurting the least,” Democratic Congressman Troy Carter Sr. told CNN on Tuesday after visiting the SPR.

Carter, whose district includes New Orleans, said the administration’s Monday morning shift was easy to do, but he’s happy with what they’ve done so far to fight prices. high gasoline.

“As it stands, I think the White House is doing everything it can given the circumstances,” he said. “We keep pushing for them to do more.”

Granholm: Big Oil puts profit before people

After taking office, Biden wasted no time focusing on the climate crisis. On his first day in office, he signed executive orders revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, imposing a moratorium on leasing oil and gas in the Arctic, and putting the United States on track to re-enter the US. Paris Climate Agreement.

Now Biden officials are openly pleading with Big Oil to pump more, not less. “We want them to increase their rig count. We want them to increase production so people don’t suffer,” Granholm said.

After losing tons of money in 2020 when oil prices crashed, the industry is now minting cash and returning billions to investors in the form of stock buybacks and dividends. Even so, U.S. oil production remains significantly below pre-Covid levels.

“They prioritize profit for their shareholders over helping their citizens,” Granholm said, adding that some companies are starting to ramp up production and U.S. production is on track to reach record highs l ‘next year. “It is extremely frustrating to see that there is no full return to production at the time of the crisis.

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