As Gas Prices Decline, Republicans Remain Critical Of Biden Over Solution Efforts

Monday, July 18th 2022, 6:15 pm


Prices at the pump have dropped steadily since hitting an all-time high last month, but Oklahoma's congressional delegation and other Republican lawmakers continue to blast President Biden for, they say, causing prices to spike in the first place.

The national average for low-grade unleaded gasoline Monday, according to AAA, was $4.52, 50 cents less than a month ago, but still $1.35 higher than a year ago.

“Democrats want to blame everyone else for the [energy price] increase," said Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK5) at a roundtable discussion with House GOP members last week, "they never want to take responsibility for the actions that they’ve put forward."

President Biden said he's doing all that he can to increase supply -- and thus bring prices down -- including releasing a million barrels of crude each day from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, (SPR) expanding the use of cheaper E-85 Ethanol in parts of the country, and working with international partners like Saudi Arabia to stabilize the global market.

Biden returned Saturday from the Middle East without any public commitment from OPEC to increase oil production, but he said the need for energy security was one of the focal points of his talks with Saudi Arabian and leaders of other oil-producing nations.

"The Saudis share that urgency," the president told reporters at an impromptu press conference Friday, "and based on our discussions today. I expect we'll see further steps in the coming weeks."

But the president faced criticism at home, from Democrats who believe it was ill-advised to meet with Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is believed to have ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and from Republicans who said the U.S. should not be "begging" dictatorships to produce more oil when we could do it ourselves.

“The solution to our gas crisis is right here in America," said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) in a statement Saturday, "and President Biden didn’t have to travel over 13,000 miles abroad to solve it. I urge him to stop blaming others for a crisis of his own making and unleash American energy now.”

As much as the administration points to the decision to tap into the SPR as a sign of President Biden's fervent desire to bring gas prices down, Republicans routinely pan the decision as an improper use of the fuel reserve.

Now, in addition, come allegations from a group of GOP Senators, including Sen. Inhofe and Sen. James Lankford, that some of that oil has been sold to adversarial nations.

“Now [Biden's] outrageously selling our emergency oil supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to nations like China," said Sen. Lankford in a news release announcing the introduction of legislation to block such action in the future. "This is absolutely unacceptable. We should help American families afford gas and groceries by increasing domestic production, rather than handing over our emergency reserves to bad-actor nations."

According to and other published reports, some crude from the SPR has indeed been exported to China, but by American oil and gas companies that obtained the oil through a proper bidding process and already export petroleum products to China; also by the U.S. subsidiary of China's national oil and gas company.

Experts on gas pricing add that, given the fact that domestic gasoline prices are determined by the global market for crude oil, it doesn't matter where the oil gets into the market, only that it does get into the market.

The legislation -- the No Emergency Crude Oil for Foreign Adversaries Act -- would block future SPR auctions from selling oil to China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. It would permit a waiver for national security reasons and require the Department of Energy to report the destination of exported oil from recent SPR auctions.