GOP Criticism of Biden’s SPR Drain Can’t Be Taken Seriously as They Got What They Asked for by Demanding Lower Gas Prices: Klain
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Republican criticism of President Joe Biden’s decision to drain the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) can’t be taken too seriously because the GOP demanded lower pump prices for American drivers and that’s exactly what “we did” by depleting the stockpile.
Klain made the remarks in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program after being asked to comment on Republican claims that Biden was releasing the oil to give Democrats a boost ahead of the midterm elections, while the stockpile should only be tapped in emergencies like natural disasters or wars.
“Well, I’d say first of all, we had Republicans say, hey, he needs to do something about gas prices, and then we did something about gas prices, and they’re, like, well, don’t do that,” Klain responded. “So, it’s hard for me to take the criticism very seriously.”
Biden on Wednesday announced the release of another 15 million barrels of oil reserves from the SPR, depleting the reserve to its lowest since 1984.
More oil has been released from the SPR under Biden than all previous presidents combined. At its peak, it held more than 726 million barrels, while now around 400 million barrels remain.
Following Biden’s announcement to release more oil, Republicans criticized the move.
“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was built for a national energy crisis—not for a Democrat election crisis,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said in a statement on Oct. 19. “His dismal approval rating is not a justifiable reason to continue to raid our nation’s oil reserves.”
“The surest way to bring down energy prices is to unleash American energy production,” Barrasso added.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) went further and called for legal safeguards to prevent the stockpile from being used for political purposes.
Biden “has just jeopardized the American people,” McCarthy alleged in an interview on the “Hugh Hewitt Show.”
“So, we’re going to have to safeguard that [so] that you cannot use that for your political gain,” he added.
‘Not Politically Motivated at All’
During a White House press conference on Oct. 19, Biden pushed back on a question whether the decision was politically motivated.
“Not it’s not,” the president replied. “Look, it makes sense. I’ve been doing this for how long now? It’s not politically motivated at all.”
Biden said the decision was to “make sure there’s enough oil that’s being pumped by the companies so that we have the ability to to produce enough gas that we need here at home, oil we need here at home.”
He added that thanks in part to his decision to tap the reserve, gas prices have fallen around 30 percent from the summer highs.
In the interview, Klain credited the release for bringing down pump prices, adding that Biden’s announcement that the reserve would be refilled at a price of $70 a barrel served to further ease price pressures by encouraging domestic production.
“Part of that was the release from the reserve you mentioned, Joe, but also part of what he announced yesterday was setting a price to refill the reserve, which gives the U.S. oil industry incentives to continue to explore and to produce more,” Klain said.
“We’re going to see record oil production in this country in 2023,” he said, adding that the Biden administration wants to “continue to responsibly increase” domestic oil production in the near term while phasing out fossil fuels in the longer term.
“We think this country can have energy security and a clean energy future,” Klain said.