The White House on Thursday announced plans for the largest-ever release of oil from the United States’ strategic reserves.
It said in a fact sheet that it would release an average of 1 million barrels per day for the next six months, resulting in a total release of about 180 million barrels.
In remarks on the plan on Thursday, President Biden called on the oil industry to produce more, while also criticizing industry profits.
“Enough of lavishing excessive profits on investors and payouts and buybacks when the American people are watching, the world is watching,” Biden said.
“This is not the time to sit on record profits. It’s time to step up for the good of your country, the good of the world, to invest in immediate production that we need to respond to Vladimir Putin, to provide some relief for your customers, not investors and executives,” he added.
The move comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine causes oil, and thus gasoline, prices to skyrocket. Many buyers are rejecting Russian barrels, creating less overall supply and increased demand from elsewhere.
This has caused headaches for the Biden administration, which was already grappling with high consumer prices that have fueled GOP attacks. Oil supply had not rebounded to meet demand following coronavirus lockdowns, keeping prices elevated.
The move on Thursday follows prior releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, including 30 million barrels earlier this month.
“These barrels will be a wartime bridge to additional U.S. production and other production that we expect later this year,” a senior administration official told reporters, noting that the plan was coordinated with U.S. allies.
The official said that the new, joint efforts would supply “well over” 1 million barrels each day to the market.
The announcement was part of a broader plan released on Thursday that the White House said would address rising domestic gas prices.
The administration is putting pressure on oil companies to ramp up production on federal lands where drilling permits have been approved but unused.
The White House fact sheet said that Biden would call on Congress to approve legislation that would “make companies pay fees on wells from their leases that they haven’t used in years and on acres of public lands that they are hoarding without producing.”
The senior administration official described it as a “use it or lose it” policy.
Such legislation, however, would face high hurdles given Democrats’ extremely slim majorities in Congress and the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for most votes.
The White House also said that Biden would authorize the use of the Defense Production Act to support the production and processing of minerals for batteries used in clean energy and electric vehicles, part of an effort to transition the U.S. to clean energy overtime and reduce dependence on oil.
Specifically, it will boost production of lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and manganese for large-capacity batteries.
The Defense Production Act gives the president the ability to boost production of certain supplies.
Officials did not offer specific estimates for how much the strategic reserve release would impact gas prices or when Americans could expect to see prices come down.