GOP hammers Biden for allowing emergency oil reserves to go to China: ‘compromising our energy security’

Several GOP lawmakers sharply criticized President Joe Biden Thursday following reports of emergency US oil being sent to China and other nations.

More than five million barrels of oil released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) have been diverted to European and Asian nations instead of US refiners, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing customs data. Biden has ordered the Department of Energy to release a total of about 260 million barrels of oil stored in the SPR over the last eight months to combat record fuel prices hitting American consumers.

“The American people deserve answers as to why our emergency energy reserves are being sent to foreign adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party, compromising our energy security and national security,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers told Fox News Digital in a statement.

“President Biden needs to remember that our strategic energy reserves are for emergencies, not to cover-up bad policies. America needs to flip the switch and increase our capacity to produce and refine oil here at home,” she continued. “Now is not the time to use our strategic stockpile.”

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McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., The top Republican on the panel’s energy subcommittee, penned a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in early June, demanding information about how the administration’s SPR policy was emboldening China. The two GOP leaders noted similar reports that China had purchased oil from US emergency reserves to bolster its own stockpile.

McMorris Rodgers told Fox News that the committee has still not received a response from Granholm on the administration’s “mismanagement” of US oil stockpiles. “What do they have to hide?” she added.

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“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is meant for national emergencies – not policy blunders,” Upton tweeted Thursday. “The administration still has not answered congressional questions on its mismanagement of the SPR.”

Meanwhile, the SPR’s level has fallen to about 492 million barrels of oil, the lowest level since December 1985, according to the Energy Information Administration. The current level is also 20% lower than its level recorded days prior to Biden’s first release in late November.

The SPR was established by the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act to help the US mitigate the impacts of future “severe energy supply interruptions.”

“After multiple failed attempts to lower US gas prices by robbing our emergency strategic petroleum reserve, will someone please inform the decision makers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that we have much larger and more strategic undeveloped energy resources that can be extracted, processed, and utilized cleaner and safer right here at home benefiting American workers and businesses? ” House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., Told Fox News Digital.

Rep.  Cathy McMorris Rodgers and House Republicans

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington, speaks during a news conference outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (Photographer: Ting Shen / Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Westerman added that promoting domestic production would solve many of the current problems facing the US and prevent Biden from “having to go to Saudi Arabia and beg for their oil.”

“The emergency reserves of oil that are in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are designed for international crises,” Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., The ranking member of the House Select Committee on Climate, told Fox News Digital in an interview. “They’re designed for natural disasters, they’re not designed to mitigate bad energy policy.”

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“This is a self-imposed problem and it’s not what our reserves were meant for,” he continued. “It certainly should not be going to adversaries like China.”

Like Westerman, Graves also criticized Biden for his policies limiting new oil and gas lease sales on federal lands, noting the Obama administration had leased far more land to energy producers than the current administration. The Department of the Interior issued a plan last week banning offshore oil and gas leasing in the Atlantic and Pacific and hold between 0-11 lease sales in other federal waters through 2028.

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“President Biden has botched American energy policy so badly that this news is not surprising,” Rep. Ralph Norman, RS.C., the ranking member of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Environment, told Fox News Digital. “Our strategic reserves are for national security, not to satisfy global oil markets.”

“This administration owes us an immediate explanation as to why our reserves were sent to other nations,” Norman said.

The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment.

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