Energy & Environment — Republicans probe oil reserve releases

Republicans examine the Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases, an additional report today raises concerns about climate actions thus far and Shell reports big profits.

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk.

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GOP seeks documents on Biden’s SPR moves

Republicans are examining what they described as the “potential misuse” of the nation’s oil reserves by the Biden administration, they said in a letter on Thursday.

Thirteen Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee wrote to the Energy Department requesting documents about releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) that were aimed at bringing down gasoline prices.

They also requested documents on whether the administration planned to ban the export of any fuels amid the administration’s call for energy companies to limit their exports of refined products like gasoline and diesel.

The administration has not said whether it would pursue a ban.

“We request documents and information to learn more about the Administration’s potential plans to ban oil and gas exports, as well as the Department of Energy’s (DOE) role in the potential misuse of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) as a means to increase domestic fuel supply,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

The letter was dated Wednesday and released publicly on Thursday.

  • President Biden in March announced that over the course of six months, his administration would release a total of 180 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve.

  • The White House particularly touted the final release of barrels that were part of the 180 million last week, featuring a speech from Biden.

In an emailed statement, the Energy Department argued that the administration was using the oil stockpile as it is intended amid market disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The SPR is a critical tool designed to address global supply disruptions, and as Putin’s war continues to create upheaval to energy markets, the Biden administration, like administrations of both parties have done in the past, is using the SPR as intended— to address supply disruptions and provide relief to American families when they need it most,” said a department spokesperson.

Read more about their letter here.


Current global climate policies are “woefully insufficient,” according to a new report from the United Nations’s Environment Program.

The emissions report, which was titled “The Closing Window,” said countries’ stated ambitions and policies to meet those ambitions were not enough to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • The report says that in order to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Celsius, global emissions need to be reduced by 30 and 45 percent respectively.

  • Currently, the plans put forward by each country would only cut global emissions by 5 to 10 percent.

It also says that many Group of 20 nations — a group of world powers like the U.S., China, India and Russia, which are also responsible for a great deal of its emissions — will not meet the climate goals they have set.

Read more about the UN report here.


The global energy crisis causing higher prices at the pump may speed up the world’s transition toward cleaner energy, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

As the world grapples with high costs and other economic concerns spurred on in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the IAE’s World Energy Outlook released Thursday forecasted that global demand for fossil fuels will peak or plateau over the next few decades.

  • Falling demand for coal and natural gas coupled with rising demand for electric vehicles will likely contribute to a decline in the need for oil, according to the report.

  • International efforts to combat the energy crisis by diversifying their energy sources are also helping hasten the shift toward clean energy. 

The report notes the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act among other global programs and policies that may “accelerate structural changes” and alleviate the demand for fossil fuels.

Read more about the IEA report here, from The Hill’s Julia Mueller.

Shell reports second-highest quarterly profit ever

British oil and gas giant Shell reported $9.5 billion in third-quarter profits Thursday, more than doubling its profits from the same period last year, amid high gas prices.

  • It’s the second-highest quarterly profit in the company’s history, down only from the second quarter of 2022, when Shell reported $11.5 billion in profit.

  • The company has already raked in more than $30 billion this year, on track to smash its annual profit record, which was set in 2008.

Shell announced that it will buy back an additional $4 billion in stock, bringing its total buybacks this year to $18.5 billion.

It’s the latest energy titan to report massive profits as consumers face high energy costs. ExxonMobil and Chevron are also enjoying record profits this year and are expected to unveil huge earnings on Friday.

“We are delivering robust results at a time of ongoing volatility in global energy markets,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

  • Democrats have accused oil companies of “price gouging” in recent weeks, but analysts have said that the high profits are driven by market forces rather than wrongdoing.

  • Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman (D) was among the left-wing critics of Shell’s announcement on Thursday.

“Big Oil just made another round of record profits by gouging Americans at the gas pump. And instead of investing that money in American energy production and lowering costs for families, companies are paying themselves through stock buybacks and keeping prices high to line their own pockets. This practice should be severely restricted,” Fetterman said in a statement.

Read more about Shell’s profits here, from The Hill’s Karl Evers-Hillstrom.


  • Big Oil Companies Are Selling Their Wells. Some Worry Taxpayers Will Pay to Clean Them Up (ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times)

  • Europe now has so much natural gas that prices just dipped below zero (CNN) Saltwater is moving up the Mississippi River. Here’s what’s being done to stop it (NPR)

  • DC Audubon Group Picks New Name, Seeking Distance From Racist Namesake (DCist)

  • US to Recalibrate Saudi Ties in ‘Very Deliberate’ Way, Blinken Says (Bloomberg)


🚙 Lighter click: A different kind of political race

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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