Marta Lavandier / AP
The United States plans to pull 50 million barrels of oil from its emergency oil reserves in the coming months, a widely anticipated move aimed at trying to curb high gas prices that have hurt consumers at the pump – and President Biden in the polls.
Inflation has become a major political concern for voters, who have seen the prices of gasoline and other commodities rise in recent months. Gas prices in the United States are at their highest level since 2014.
Biden has discussed the issue with other executives, and other major consumers – China, India, Japan, South Korea and the UK – will take similar steps to free oil from their stocks, the White House announced on Tuesday.
At a Tuesday press conference announcing the decision, Biden said, “We are taking action.”
“Much of the reason Americans face high gas prices is because oil-producing countries and big business haven’t increased oil supplies quickly enough to meet demand. the smaller supply means higher prices globally – globally – for oil, “he said.
Biden warned that actions by the United States and other countries would not solve problems at the pump “overnight,” but said Americans might expect relief soon.
“It will take time, but before long you should see the price of gasoline drop where you fill up,” he said.
The news comes during one of the busiest driving times of the year, as Americans visit family members for Thanksgiving.
“The markets have been out of whack since the COVID hit,” a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday. “We’ve had unbelievably low prices and now we have high prices and supply that doesn’t match demand, which is causing a lot of pain at the pump for American consumers.”
The White House said anticipation of the decision to dip into reserves has already helped push oil prices down by about 10% in recent weeks. This decline has not yet translated into cheaper gas for consumers. Administration officials wouldn’t say when they thought Americans might see relief.
NPR’s Alana Wise contributed reporting.