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U.S. to tap into its oil reserves in face of record-high gas prices

The Biden administration announced plans to increase the oil supply to combat rising gas prices caused by the Ukraine crisis

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President Biden announced that the U.S. will tap into the strategic petroleum reserves to help ease the pain of record-high gas prices.

This move comes several weeks after the U.S. announced strict sanctions against Russia, causing already rising oil prices to go up even more. Americans have felt the brunt of this: we’re paying more than a dollar extra per gallon of gas. For President Biden, the immediate solution is straightforward: increase the oil supply.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: Our prices are rising because of Putin’s actions. There isn’t enough supply, and the bottom line is if we want lower gas prices, we need to have more oil supply right now.

The nation’s strategic petroleum reserve will release one million barrels a day for the next six months. That will amount to over 180 million barrels, which is about a third of the entire U.S. reserve. This is the largest release of oil from the reserve in its history. The oil is stored in underground salt caverns in the southern U.S..

Jonathan Aronson is a USC professor of International Relations. He says the move by the White House won’t do enough to lower gas prices.

JONATHAN ARONSON: It’s not going to change everything immediately. What’s also happening is that the gasoline companies, the oil companies, when things get tight, they tend to raise prices more quickly...So, yes, it will have a little bit of difference, but you’re still going to be paying a lot more than you would have otherwise.

Oil represents a major U.S. vulnerability. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, domestic production only accounts for a little more than half of the 21 million barrels used by Americans daily. Administration officials estimate that domestic production will increase by 1 million barrels daily by the end of 2022. But, there is a long way to go before the nation doesn’t need to rely on foreign oil.

The President also wants Congress to impose financial penalties on oil companies that choose not to produce oil on public land. Biden shamed oil producers for focusing more on making money than on doing what’s best for the American people during the Ukraine crisis.

BIDEN: This is the time, not the time, to sit on record profits. It is time to step up for the good of your country.

USC professor Jonathan Aronson says that the gas crisis may push the country more towards clean energy.

ARONSON: This makes other kinds of fuels much more attractive, certainly a lot of people who can afford it when they buy their next car, they’re going to look much more carefully at electric vehicles than they would have otherwise.