President Joe Biden is mulling a plan to release up to a million barrels of oil a day from the nation’s strategic reserves to help mitigate dramatic surges in gas prices across the nation, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.
The White House could make the announcement as early as Thursday, and the draw on the reserves could last for as long as 180 days, The New York Times reported. The duration and size of the plan are still in discussion, but it would be a major effort to add a huge amount of oil into the global economy and could soften price spikes that have hit Americans in their pocketbooks.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve holds about 550 million barrels of oil. Bloomberg was the first to report the news, adding the plan would be release in conjunction with a diplomatic push for other nations to release portions of their stockpiles as well.
Gas prices have remained high for the last month amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted oil and gas deliveries around the world. The average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. was around $4.23 on Wednesday, far higher than the $3.61 a gallon a month before.
Gas prices in March 2021 were about $2.86 a gallon on average, according to AAA.
Biden has borne the brunt of GOP frustration over the stratospheric prices, and his administration has scrambled to rein in inflation after two years of the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans have all but promised to use the gas pump as a cudgel before November’s midterm elections while the White House has blamed oil companies for failing to expand production and alleviate the high prices.
“Instead of keeping up with current demand, too many of these companies, in our view, are making the calculated decision of returning money to investors and shareholders through buybacks and dividends instead of expanding production enough in the short term, which is what we need,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this month.
The White House had previously announced the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the reserve in November and a further 30 million barrels after the invasion of Ukraine began.