House GOP calls for restrictions on presidential use of US oil stocks
WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second time this month, House Republicans have advanced a measure to restrict the presidential use of the country’s emergency oil stockpile — a proposal that has already drawn a veto threat. of the White House.
A GOP bill approved Friday would require the government to offset any non-emergency withdrawals from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with new drilling on public lands and oceans. Republicans accuse President Joe Biden of misusing the reserve for political reasons to keep gas prices low, while Biden says tapping the reserve was necessary last year in response to the ban Russian oil imports following President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden withdrew 180 million barrels from the strategic reserve over several months, bringing the stock to its lowest level since the 1980s. The administration said last month that it would begin to replenish the reserve now that oil prices have gone down.
The bill passed, 221-205, on a vote close to the party line. The measure is heading to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it is expected to languish.
Representative Jared Golden of Maine was the only Democrat to join unanimous Republicans in supporting the bill.
Even before the vote, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre attacked the latest GOP proposal, which follows a bill approved two weeks ago that would bar the Energy Department to sell oil from the strategic reserve to companies owned or influenced by the Chinese Communist Party. .
“House Republicans will vote to raise gas prices for American families…and help Putin’s war aims by interfering with our ability to release oil,” Jean-Pierre said Monday, referring to the project. current GOP bill. “These extreme policies would subject working families to immense financial hardship…just to benefit the wealthiest taxpayers and big corporations.”
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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, appearing with Jean-Pierre at the White House, said the bill would make it “more difficult to offer Americans relief in the future” from oil disruptions that could increase the prices.
Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee and sponsored the GOP bill, accused Granholm and the White House of multiple misleading allegations, including an erroneous claim that the bill could affect the use of the reserve during a president-declared emergency. .
“At a time when gas prices are on the rise, Secretary Granholm and the Biden administration must be transparent with the American people about their efforts to cover up how they misused the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a political gimmick. ‘election year,’ McMorris told Rodgers.
“Republicans want lasting, lasting relief at the pumps. The best way to do that is to unleash American energy,” which his legislation helps accomplish, added McMorris Rodgers of Washington state.
The impassioned rhetoric is part of a larger fight against oil drilling and climate change. Republicans say restrictions on oil leasing imposed by the Biden administration are hampering US energy production and hurting the economy, while Democrats are touting a sweeping climate law approved last year as a step crucial to weaning the nation off fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas. The measure authorizes billions in spending to boost renewable energy such as wind and solar power and includes incentives for Americans to buy millions of electric cars, heat pumps, solar panels and more efficient appliances.
Biden, citing the dangers of climate change, canceled the controversial Keystone XL pipeline during his first days in office and suspended new oil and gas leases on federal lands. The moratorium has since been lifted, by court order, but Republicans complain that lease sales for new drilling rights are still limited.
Biden has campaigned on promises to end new drilling on public lands, and climate activists have been pushing him to act faster to end oil leasing. Fossil fuels extracted from public lands account for about 20% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, making it a prime target for emissions reductions to slow global warming.
“Whether on land or at sea, oil drilling poses an unacceptable risk to our wildlife, wild places and waterways,” said Lisa Frank of Environment America, an advocacy group. “When we drill, we overturn. At a time when we should be moving away from this destructive and dangerous practice – and expanding the use of renewable energy – this bill doubles the outdated energy of the past.
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Frank urged lawmakers to reject the GOP bill and permanently ban new drilling off the US coast and in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Conservative and industry groups support the bill.
“We can continue to make the Strategic Petroleum Reserve the country’s only response to future disruptions, or we can also make greater use of the vast oil reserves located underground and offshore areas currently banned by the President,” the President said. Competitive Enterprise Institute and others. the conservative groups said in a letter to Congress.
The Treasury Department estimates that the release of oil from the emergency stockpile has lowered prices at the pump by as much as 40 cents a gallon. Gasoline prices averaged about $3.50 a gallon on Thursday, down from just over $5 a gallon at their peak in June, according to the AAA auto club.
Morris Rodgers has accused Biden of using the reserve to “cover up his failed policies” which she says are driving up energy prices and inflation. Average gasoline prices are up more than 30 cents from a month ago and are higher than when Biden took office in January 2021, they noted with other Republicans.
“Millions of Americans are paying more at the pump because of the Biden administration’s radical ‘green rush’ agenda that shut down American energy,” McMorris Rodgers said.
Granholm, citing thousands of unused oil company leases, said GOP allegations of obstructionism on drilling were misplaced. “Nothing stands in the way of domestic oil and gas production,” she said. McMorris Rodgers disputed this, citing “onerous regulations” and discouragement of investment in the domestic oil and gas industries.
The oil bill was one of the first to be considered under a more open rules process allowed by Republicans since regaining a majority in the House. More than 60 amendments were considered on Thursday and Friday, with most parties voted down.
Among those approved were two amendments by New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a moderate Democrat. The two made it clear that oil from the reserve should not be sold to China, Iran, North Korea or Russia, responding to a complaint filed by Democrats earlier this month about of a previous GOP bill that targeted China for a ban on buying U.S. reserves.
China’s measure has won strong Democratic support in the House and could advance to the Senate; Lawmakers on both sides have expressed growing concerns over China’s influence on the global economy.