Biden outlines plan to keep gas prices in check

STORY: With inflation a top worry for voters just weeks before the midterm elections, U.S. President Joe Biden announced Wednesday (October 19) a plan to sell an additional 15 million barrels of crude oil from America’s strategic reserve -- and said more would be released if it was needed -- all in an effort to dampen high gasoline prices.

It comes two weeks after OPEC rankled Biden by siding with Russia and agreeing to a production cut... that raised fears of a new spike in prices at U.S. pumps.

“We're going to continue to stabilize markets and decrease the prices at a time when the actions of other countries have caused such volatility.”

U.S. presidents have little control over oil prices, but with the country’s massive gas consumption – the highest in the world – high prices can be political poison.

Biden said domestic producers should be using record-breaking profits to invest in production.

Prices are falling, he said, but not fast enough.

“My message to the American energy companies is this: you should not be using your profits to buy back stock for dividends. Not now. Not while a war is raging.”

Biden assured the nation’s drillers that the government will swoop into the market as a buyer if prices plunge too low.

He said his aim would be to replenish oil stocks when U.S. crude is around $70 a barrel, a level that would allow companies to profit while still being good for taxpayers.

The U.S. benchmark was around $85 on Wednesday.

The announcement underscores just how much world events – like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February – have upended Biden’s plan to move the country to a fossil-fuel free future.

Biden said America must both invest in oil production and clean energy.

“So I'm asking the Congress to pass a permitting bill to speed up the approval of all kinds of energy production from wind to solar to clean hydrogen. Because we need to get this moving now, quickly now.”

Oil companies and Republicans are pushing back on Biden’s plan... saying the president is tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve or SPR for political reasons and not because there is an actual emergency.

America’s strategic reserve is now at its lowest levels since 1984. It is more than half full with more than 400 million barrels of oil... enough, Biden said, for any emergency drawdowns.