Today, the House of Representatives is slated to pass important legislation through H.R. 21, the Strategic Production Response Act. Led by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris-Rogers, H.R. 21 would require any drawdowns from Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be coupled with increased oil leasing on federal lands. It is common sense legislation to open up more federal lands and waters for energy development in the United States, ensuring America’s energy industry remains competitive in the decades ahead.
Unfortunately, the Biden administration has issued a Statement of Administrative Policy and has threatened to veto H.R. 21, should it pass both chambers of Congress. It is therefore unlikely that this legislation will be signed into law this term – a blow to America’s energy industry.
Oil production is a vital component of our modern economy and it plays a crucial role in powering our homes, businesses, and transportation systems. Yet, President Biden has put the fossil fuel industry in his crosshairs by restricting oil production on federal lands and waters, imposing new taxes and regulations, and threatening to phase out all oil and gas in the long-term. Due in part to his failed energy agenda, gas prices have ballooned since he was sworn into office in January 2021.
Despite his opposition to oil production and the political issue of high gas prices, he has tapped into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and has drained our nation’s oil stockpile by 270 million barrels. Today, the SPR is at its lowest level since November 1983. Having such limited supplies in our reserve hamstrings our ability to respond to severe supply disruptions due to war, embargoes, or natural disasters.
Continuing to tap the SPR is not a long-term solution, but simply a short-term band aid to a political problem in order to avoid high energy prices. By tying releases from the SPR to federal leases, the Strategic Production Response Act incentivizes the administration and its relevant agencies to consider forward looking policies rather than short term ones. Releasing oil from the SPR was, and is, not a viable solution towards insulating the U.S. from volatile energy costs. The only way to secure our future energy independence is to utilize the vast land and natural resources our country enjoys.
Chair Rogers’ proposal is a sound fix to refill the SPR and support America’s energy industry that has been under fire for the last several years. Passing this bill would be a principled policy victory for American energy independence and everyday Americans who rely on oil to power their daily lives.