Many environmentalists support Biden’s move to tap oil reserves

Many environmentalists support Biden’s move to tap oil reserves

Washington Democrats and climate activists generally supported President Joe Biden’s decision to release 50 million barrels of oil from the US Strategic Reserve, even as the move appeared to conflict with his long-term vision to combat climate change.

The US measure, announced on Tuesday in coordination with countries such as India, the United Kingdom and China, is aimed at global energy markets and help bring down gasoline prices that have risen more than a dollar per gallon since January. But it could also undermine Biden’s climate goals, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.

However, some prominent climate hawks said they are not interested in the move because they see it as a short-term solution to a particular problem. Democratic Senator Ed Markey, who has focused on fighting climate change, said Biden is “taking effective action to protect Americans from rising oil prices” even as the administration continues to promote renewable energy that it hopes will ultimately mean less reliance on fossil fuels.


“This is the purpose of the Reserves – defending our economy against disruption,” Markey wrote on Twitter. “Profit cannot go unanswered, especially as the major oil companies are making billions and fueling the climate crisis through exports.”

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a contingency stock to maintain access to oil in the event of natural disasters, national security issues and other events. The reserves are held by the Department of Energy, and they are stored in caves created in salt domes along the Gulf of Texas and Louisiana coasts. There are approximately 605 million barrels of oil in reserve.

Markey and other Democrats have urged Biden to release oil from the reserves to lower prices for consumers. There have also been calls for the president to reimpose a ban on crude oil exports that was lifted in 2015. Biden has taken no move to reimpose the export ban, which Republicans in Congress rescinded in an effort to assert US dominance over energy and domestic promotion. Produce.


Biden under the legislation has the authority to declare a state of emergency and limit or halt oil exports for up to a year but is not expected to do so.

Kelly Sheehan, director of energy campaigns for the Sierra Club, praised Biden’s actions as a way to ease Americans’ energy burdens. But she said the current rise in oil prices was a reminder that “the only way to truly achieve energy security is to move quickly away from risky fossil fuels like oil and gas and make it easier for more people to get clean energy.”

Lorne Stockman, director of research at Oil Change International, an environmental group focused on creating a “fossil-free future,” said Biden should have acted sooner, if only to counter a barrage of Republican criticism blaming him for high gasoline prices.

“Presidents are always blamed for high gas prices, whether they have anything to do with it or not,” Stockman said, describing the measure as a small step to bring short-term relief to American consumers.


Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Biden said higher gas prices made the move necessary and that he would not distract from his larger ambitions in moving toward energy independence.

“My efforts to combat climate change are not raising the price of gas,” Biden said. What it’s doing is increasing the availability of jobs making electric cars like the one you drove… at the General Motors plant in Detroit last week.

Americans buying electric cars will save up to $1,000 in fuel costs this year, Biden said, “and we’ll put those savings within reach for more Americans and create jobs installing solar panels, batteries, and electric heat pumps. We can make those savings affordable for more Americans.” Our economy and consumers are less vulnerable to these kinds of price hikes when we do that.”

Biden said the White House was looking into potential price gouging by oil companies that put pressure on customers while making money from lower costs. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said US companies are keeping production below pre-pandemic levels in order to boost profits.


The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted energy markets. With the start of the lockdown in April 2020, demand collapsed and oil futures prices turned negative. Energy traders didn’t want to fall into the trap of crude oil they couldn’t store. But as the economy recovered, prices jumped to a seven-year high in October.

Republican Senator John Barrasso called Biden’s use of the strategic reserve, along with calls by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia to increase production, as “desperate attempts to address a disaster caused by Biden” rather than a substitute for increased US energy production.

Lukas Ross, director of climate justice and energy at Friends of the Earth, another environmental group, said the sharp rise in gas prices shows that “our continued dependence on a volatile compound that literally cooks the climate is exactly why we need it.” And the environmental bill was approved as quickly as possible.

The $2 trillion bill, which has been approved in the House and pending in the Senate, includes about $550 billion for climate change efforts, including proposals to boost wind and solar power and subsidize electric cars. Republicans unanimously oppose this measure.


Biden said the United States needs to move away from dependence on oil, and “now is the time to deliver on that promise by urgently accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and a renewable energy grid,” said Casey Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biodiversity, another ecological group.

“Price volatility will always be part of the rules of the game at Big Oil,” she added. “Let’s break their grip on our economy once and for all.”

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