UNITED STATES NEWS

Many environmentalists back Biden’s move to tap oil reserve

Nov 24, 2021, 5:45 PM | Updated: Nov 26, 2021, 6:58 am
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks as he announces that he is nominating Jerome Powell for a second ...

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks as he announces that he is nominating Jerome Powell for a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chair, during an event in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. The White House on Tuesday said it had ordered 50 million barrels of oil released from strategic reserve to bring down energy costs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats and climate activists generally supported President Joe Biden’s decision to release a record 50 million barrels of oil from America’s strategic reserve, even as the move appeared to contradict his long-term vision of combating climate change.

The U.S. action, announced Tuesday in coordination with countries such as India, the United Kingdom and China, is aimed at global energy markets and helping lower gasoline prices that have risen more than a dollar per gallon since January. But it could also undermine Biden’s climate goals, including a 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Some leading climate hawks, however, said they were not concerned by the move because they see it as a short-term fix to meet a specific problem. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who has focused on combating climate change, said Biden was “taking effective action to protect Americans from oil price gouging” even as the administration continues to boost renewable energy that it hopes will eventually mean less dependence on fossil fuels.

“This is what reserves are for — defending our economy against disruption,´´ Markey tweeted. “Profiteering can’t go unanswered, especially as Big Oil makes billions and fuels the climate crisis through exports.´´

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is an emergency stockpile to preserve access to oil in case of natural disasters, national security issues and other events. Maintained by the Energy Department, the reserves are stored in caverns created in salt domes along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts. There are roughly 605 million barrels of petroleum in the reserve.

Markey and other Democrats had urged Biden to release oil from the reserve to ease prices on consumers. There have also been calls on the president to reinstate a ban on crude oil exports that was lifted in 2015. Biden has made no move to reimpose the export ban, which was repealed by congressional Republicans in a bid to assert U.S. energy dominance and promote domestic production.

Biden has authority under the legislation to declare an emergency and limit or stop oil exports for up to a year but is not expected to do so.

Kelly Sheehan, senior director of energy campaigns with the Sierra Club, hailed Biden’s actions as a way to ease Americans’ energy burdens. But she said the current spike in oil prices was a reminder that “the only way to truly achieve energy security is to rapidly transition away from risky fossil fuels like oil and gas and make it easier for more people to access clean energy.´´

Lorne Stockman, research director of Oil Change International, an environmental group focused on creating a “fossil-free future,´´ said Biden should have acted sooner, if only to counter a barrage of Republican criticism blaming him for high gasoline prices.

“Presidents are always blamed for high gas prices, whether they have anything to do with it or not,´´ Stockman said, calling the measure a small step to bring short-term relief to American consumers.

Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Biden said the rise in gas prices made the move necessary and that it wouldn’t distract from his larger ambitions of moving toward energy independence.

“My effort to combat climate change is not raising the price of gas,” Biden said. “What it is doing is increasing the availability of jobs building electric cars like the one I drove … in a GM factory in Detroit last week.”

Americans who buy electric cars will save up to $1,000 in fuel costs this year, Biden said, “and we’re going to put those savings within reach of more Americans and create jobs installing solar panels, batteries and electric heat pumps. We can make our economy and consumers less vulnerable to these sorts of price spikes when we do that.”

Biden said the White House was looking into potential price gouging by oil companies squeezing customers while making money off lower costs. And Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said U.S. companies were keeping production below pre-pandemic levels in order to increase profits.

The coronavirus pandemic has roiled energy markets. As closures began in April 2020, demand collapsed and oil futures prices turned negative. Energy traders did not want to get stuck with crude that they could not store. But as the economy recovered, prices jumped to a seven-year high in October.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., called Biden’s use of the strategic reserve, along with calls for OPEC and Russia to increase production, “desperate attempts to address a Biden-caused disaster” and no substitute for increased American energy production.

Lukas Ross, manager of climate and energy justice at Friends of the Earth, another environmental group, said the spike in gas prices shows that “our continued dependence on a volatile compound that is literally cooking the climate is exactly why we need” Biden’s sweeping social and environmental bill approved as quickly possible.

The $2 trillion bill, which has been approved in the House and is pending in the Senate, includes about $550 billion for climate change efforts, including proposals to boost wind and solar power and support electric vehicles. Republicans unanimously oppose the measure.

Biden has said the U.S. needs to transition away from oil dependence, and “now is the moment to keep that promise by urgently speeding the transition to electric cars and a renewable energy grid,” said Kassie Siegel, director of a climate law institute at the Center for Biological Diversity, another environmental group.

“Price volatility will always be part of Big Oil’s playbook,” she added. “Let’s break their stranglehold on our economy once and for all.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

United States News

Blue Bunny and Halo Top brand ice cream products are seen in Englewood, N.J., The Italian confectio...
Associated Press

Ferrero buys Blue Bunny ice cream maker Wells Enterprises

Italian confectioner Ferrero said Wednesday it is acquiring Wells Enterprises, one of the largest U.S. ice cream makers, in a deal that will broaden both companies’ offerings. Wells, a 100-year-old family-owned company based in Le Mars, Iowa, makes Blue Bunny, Halo Top and other brands. It employs 4,000 people and produces more than 200 million […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

High court sides with history society’s access to earthworks

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s historical society can proceed with efforts to gain control of a set of ancient ceremonial and burial earthworks currently maintained by a country club where members golf alongside the mounds but access to the public is limited, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. At issue before the court were the […]
14 hours ago
Brenda and Brian Lilly look at photos of their son Brian Lilly Jr. in their Easton, Conn. home, Thu...
Associated Press

Rower’s family says abusive coach pushed athlete to suicide

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — On New Year’s Day nearly two years ago, Parker Kinney spent the day with Brian Lilly Jr. at picturesque Scripps Beach in the San Diego area and realized his friend had become a shadow of his former self. Kinney and Lilly walked on the sand for hours and went to dinner. […]
14 hours ago
FILE - This June 23, 2011, file booking photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows James "Wh...
Associated Press

Watchdog finds prison failures before Whitey Bulger killing

WASHINGTON (AP) — A series of missteps by federal Bureau of Prisons officials preceded the October 2018 beating death of notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report on Wednesday. The watchdog is recommending that at least six Bureau of Prisons workers be disciplined, according to the report. […]
14 hours ago
FILE - Southwest Airlines jets are stored at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, April 28,...
Associated Press

Southwest Airlines brings back dividend as travel rebounds

DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines said Wednesday that it is bringing back dividends for shareholders, which it suspended when the pandemic devastated the airline business in early 2020. Dallas-based Southwest said in a regulatory filing that it will pay a quarterly dividend of 18 cents per share on Jan. 31. The move comes as air […]
14 hours ago
FILE - Director Spike Lee, left, and activist The Rev. Al Sharpton attend the premiere for "Loudmou...
Associated Press

Sharpton says film debuts at ‘critical point’ in US politics

NEW YORK (AP) — The Rev. Al Sharpton has been called a lot of names in his public life: a hustler, a racist, an opportunist, a fraud, a rat, a jester. He embraces at least one of the intended insults, a name often hurled by his critics on the right and the left: “Loudmouth.” That’s […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Many environmentalists back Biden’s move to tap oil reserve