Consumer Alert: President Biden is releasing oil from the SPR to drive down gas prices. Will it work?
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he’d tap our country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve and release 50 million barrels of oil. The move is an attempt to cut the price we pay at the pump. But will it?
This is the kind of research that consumer investigators live for because it’s challenging. The politics of both sides muddy the waters, but there in the muck and mire are the facts and the facts are complicated.
First, let’s take a look at what the Democrats are saying. Tuesday Sen. Chuck Schumer said “President Biden’s announcement is good news for American families and will strengthen our economy.”
Let’s examine that statement. If the U.S. were the only country releasing a few million barrels, this move wouldn’t mean much. But five other big oil-consuming countries are releasing oil too including India, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom. The leaders of all six countries hope if they all release the oil, they can flood the world market and bring down the price. That would effectively stick it to oil-producing countries that refuse to open their spigots. But will this work?
We can use history as a guide. For example, in 2011, the International Energy Agency organized a coordinated oil release because a crisis in Libya disrupted the oil supply. But get this: It only pushed prices down 6%, and two weeks later prices were right back where they had been before. Analysts predict we’ll get some relief at the pump, but it will be short-lived.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator John Barrasso said, “President Biden’s policies are hiking inflation and energy prices for the American people. Tapping the strategic petroleum reserve will not fix the problem.”
Again, the truth is more complicated. U.S. oil producers will not open the spigots, in part, because of President Biden’s policies.
Shareholders are reluctant to pour money into expensive drilling projects when the future of fossil fuels is uncertain. But they’re also raking in the cash while prices are high and are in no hurry to help lower the price of oil.
And while the Biden Administration temporarily suspended new oil and gas leases to drill on federal land early this year, it later increased the number of approvals to drill on land that was already leased, out-pacing any president since George W. Bush. Environmentalists are furious.
As I said, the truth is complicated. And while those on both sides of the aisle like to shift blame and throw mud, we as consumers have to figure out how to navigate a world of much higher prices. One tool to help is in your hand, your smartphone.
Free apps can help you find the cheapest gas in your area. Here are six favorites:
Waze and GasBuddy are crowd-sourced. That means that people are reporting prices in real-time. I’ve found both really helpful. But I’ve read good things about the other four. All help you find the least expensive gas near you.