Horsford joined chorus urging Biden to tap strategic petroleum reserves

By: - November 22, 2021 4:57 pm

(Photo: Pixabay)

On the eve of the White House announcing it would do so, Nevada Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford on Monday joined calls urging President Joe Biden to make use of emergency petroleum reserves in an effort to lower gas prices.

Tuesday morning, the White House announced the Department of Energy will release of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next several months “to lower prices for Americans and address the mismatch between demand exiting the pandemic and supply.”

Though presidents have little to no control over gas prices, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is an emergency fuel source held by the Department of Energy that can prevent gas shortages and price spikes after supplies are disrupted by events like natural disasters. Biden previously tapped into the reserve in September after Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast. It’s also been used by past presidents following other natural disasters and crises.

Horsford on Monday said he was asking for the immediate release of inventory from the reserve as gasoline prices in Nevada have risen by more than 50% due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. 

“As prices surge past $4/gallon, my constituents are struggling to fill up their tanks and worried about the cost of heating their homes as the temperature drops,” Horsford said Monday. “I am encouraged by reports that President Biden is considering releasing oil inventory from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and urge him to move forward as soon as possible. Tapping our nation’s oil reserves is a key step forward to stabilize gas prices and help Nevadans recover from the economic damage of the pandemic.”

In the past few weeks, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pushed the Biden administration to release the nation’s emergency petroleum reserves in order to curb soaring gas prices. In a letter signed by 11 other Senate Democrats, Schumer asked Biden to “consider all tools available at your disposal to lower U.S. gasoline prices, including the reserve.”

“In our home states, high gasoline prices have placed an undue burden on families and small businesses trying to make ends meet, and have proven especially burdensome as our constituents continue to recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads the letter.

Republicans have been hammering Biden and Democrats over rising energy prices. The Biden administration contends energy price increases have been a result of an economic recovery after a pandemic-caused downturn, and demand for energy rebounded before production.

“American consumers are feeling the impact of elevated gas prices at the pump and in their home heating bills, and American businesses are, too, because oil supply has not kept up with demand as the global economy emerges from the pandemic,” the White House said in its announcement Tuesday.

The White House statement also reiterated calls he has made in recent weeks for an investigation, citing concerns that “consolidation in the oil and gas sector may be resulting in anti-competitive practices that keep American consumers from benefitting when oil prices fall. There is mounting evidence that declines in oil prices are not translating into lower prices at the pump.”

The U.S. actions are being taken in parallel with releases of reserves from several other nations, including China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom.

This story was updated Tuesday morning.

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Jeniffer Solis
Jeniffer Solis

Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.