Energy Secretary says, Biden is obsessed with lowering gas prices, but his power is limited
“The president doesn’t control the price,” the former Michigan governor said during the interview at GE’s wind turbine facility in New Orleans.
Granholm, along with state and local officials, received a briefing Tuesday from SPR staff on how the system is responding to a supply crunch like the current system.
Surrounded by barbed wire fences and protected by electronic alarm systems and security dogs, the facility features a maze of pipes and sophisticated high-pressure pumps used to either inject or extract oil recently stored deep in the earth.
The oil is kept in caves located 2,000 feet below the surface within salt domes. The caves are huge – deep enough to stack the Washington Monument four times – and each contain about 10 million barrels of crude oil.
“Everything is still on the table.”
However, some industry experts have warned that a ban on US crude shipments abroad will only inflate global oil prices, which is what pump prices are based on.
Granholm added that Biden’s advisers are doing a “stress test” of a series of moves to make sure there are no unintended consequences.
Gas prices initially fell after Biden announced the release of a record 180 million barrels of strategic oil reserve in late March following the turmoil caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the easing proved temporary, and today the national average price per gallon is 37 cents higher than it was on the day Biden announced the unprecedented move.
Granholm defended the SPR strategy, saying it was an attempt to get supply to meet demand and that other global events were also affecting prices, including the war in Ukraine and China’s COVID-19 shutdown.
The Biden administration is now issuing so much emergency oil, in addition to sales that Congress has authorized to increase revenue, that some in the energy industry doubted that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve could pump so much crude at once.
“It’s mind-blowing that we’re able to do this,” Paul Ostering, project manager in SBR’s Project Management Office, told reporters.
Technically speaking, the SPR could provide more oil: the system has a maximum withdrawal capacity of 4.2 million barrels per day.
Climate ambition meets economic reality
Biden ran the most aggressive climate agenda of any elected president ever. However, it is now draining oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at a record pace, urging US oil and gas companies to pump more oil and trying to persuade OPEC to increase supply.
When asked if this is an embarrassing juxtaposition, Granholm repliedAnd “It responds to the current situation.”
“You can walk and chew gum. You can do both,” Granholm said. “The fact that we’re paying these outrageous prices is almost an exclamation point for the fact that we need to transition to clean energy, so we’re not in that position in the future.”
High gas prices are putting stress on families, forcing them to make tough decisions about their finances.
“The people who are most affected are the least fortunate,” Democratic Congressman Troy Carter, Sr., told CNN Tuesday after touring SPR.
Carter, whose area includes New Orleans, said it’s easy on the management Monday morning, but he’s happy with what they’ve done so far to combat high gas prices.
“As is the case today, I think the White House is doing everything it can under the circumstances,” he said. “We keep pushing to get them to do more.”
Granholm: Big oil companies put profits before citizens
After taking office, Biden wasted no time focusing on the climate crisis. On his first day in office, he signed executive orders revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit, imposing a moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic and setting the United States on track to re-enter the Paris climate agreement.
Now, Biden officials are publicly pleading with the major oil companies to pump more, not less. “We want them to increase the number of their equipment,” Granholm said. “We want them to increase production so that people don’t get hurt.”
“They are prioritizing profit for their shareholders over helping their fellow citizens,” Granholm said, adding that some companies have begun to ramp up production and that US production is on track to reach record levels next year. “It is very disappointing to see that there is no complete return to production in a time of crisis.”