The Biden administration announced Tuesday it will release 1 million barrels of gasoline from reserves held in the Northeast to reduce gas prices before the 4th of July.

“By strategically releasing this reserve in between Memorial Day and July 4th, we are ensuring sufficient supply flows to the tri-state [region] and northeast at a time hardworking Americans need it the most,” Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement, according to CNBC.

The ‘strategic release’ will come in 100,000 barrel increments from storage sites in New Jersey and Maine.

Could this also be a politically strategic move to bolster Biden before the election?

“Why does Biden only release oil reserves during election season?” Power the Future Executive Director Daniel Turner questioned.



Gasoline futures have rallied 19% this year as oil prices have risen due to OPEC cutting production and fears the Israel-Hamas war could spark a broader Middle East conflict that disrupts supplies. Rising energy prices stirred speculation in April that the Biden administration might tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Texas and Louisiana ahead of the November presidential election.

White House National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard said last month that the administration would “make sure gas prices remain affordable.”

But gas prices have eased in recent weeks as oil has pulled back from April highs hit when traders bid up crude futures on fears that Israel and OPEC member Iran were on the brink of war.

On Tuesday, gas prices averaged $3.59 per gallon nationwide.

“Though gasoline prices have come down over the past month, broader inflation has remained stubborn, irking consumers,” CNBC noted.

From the Associated Press:

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said release of gas from the Northeast reserve builds on actions by President Joe Biden “to lower gas and energy costs — including historic releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the largest-ever investment in clean energy.″

Biden significantly drained the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, dropping the stockpile to its lowest level since the 1980s. The election year move helped stabilize gasoline prices that had been rising in the wake of the war in Europe but drew complaints from Republicans that the Democratic president was playing politics with a reserve meant for national emergencies.

The Biden administration has since begun refilling the oil reserve, which had more than 367 million barrels of crude oil as of last week. The total is lower than levels before the Russia-Ukraine war but still the world’s largest emergency crude oil supply.

The Northeast sale will require that the 42-million-gallon reserve is transferred or delivered no later than June 30, the Energy Department said.

Congressional Republicans have long criticized the Northeast reserve, which was established by former President Barack Obama, saying any such stockpile should have been created by Congress. A 2022 report by the Government Accountability Office said the gasoline reserve, which has never been tapped, would provide minimal relief during a severe shortage. The reserve costs about $19 million a year to maintain.

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