In the final months of President Donald Trump’s presidency the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was in the spotlight as he tried to replenish it after years of neglect and at a time when oil was cheap.
But the Democrats cut it out of a bill it was included in, claiming it was a hit on Big Oil.
World Oil reported in March of 2020:
In recent years, Congress has used the stockpile as a piggybank for government programs, and Trump had previously approved reducing it by half, something that critics opposed even as the shale revolution allowed the U.S. to reduce its reliance on imports.
If the government filled the reserve to capacity at today’s prices, the purchase would cost about $2.6 billion and could generate about 430,000 barrels-a-day of demand over approximately six months.
“We’re going to fill it right up to the top — saving the American taxpayer billions and billions of dollars, helping our oil industry,” Trump said at the time.
Roll Call reported on the Democrats’ effort to halt Trump’s plan in March 2020 and take credit for a strike on Big Oil:
The Trump administration’s plan to top off the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ran into a blockade Wednesday after lawmakers excluded $3 billion in funding for oil purchases from the massive stimulus package before Congress. Senate Democrats took credit for stripping out that money from the Senate bill, unveiled Wednesday, calling it a “bailout” for the oil industry.
The Energy Department solicited offers from small and midsize producers to fill the reserve and cushion the fallout from low oil prices after the global market cratered this month, following decisions from Russia and Saudi Arabia to continue production. But DOE would need money from Congress to make purchases for the SPR. The department has about $10 million in its SPR fund. The department on March 10 also announced it would delay a planned sale of oil from the reserve, citing the low prices.
Congress has at least four times since 2015 tapped the reserve to pay for legislation, including the 21st Century Cures Act, the 2017 tax overhaul, the 2015 bipartisan budget agreement and the 2015 highway infrastructure bill.
Now Biden and Democrats are trying to to use the SPR to reduce oil prices and, thus, lower gasoline prices.
But according to the federal Energy Information Administration the move would fall far short of solving the problem, “In 2020, the United States consumed an average of about 18.19 million barrels of petroleum per day, or a total of about 6.66 billion barrels of petroleum. This was the lowest level of annual consumption since 1995. The drop in consumption in 2020 from 2019 was the largest recorded annual decline in U.S. petroleum demand. The decrease was largely the result of the global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter