Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm called on United States’ oil companies to increase production to try to help bring down the elevated prices Americans are paying at the pump.
Granholm’s comments came during a Nov. 23 White House press briefing, hours after President Joe Biden ordered 50 million barrels of oil released from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)—the largest ever release.
“We want to encourage [oil companies] to increase supply,” said Granholm. “We want supply to be increased both inside the United States and around the world so we can reduce the pressures at the pump.”
Domestic oil production continues to remain below pre-pandemic levels. The U.S. was producing just over 11 million barrels per day of crude oil in August compared to more than 12 million barrels per day in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association.
Granholm says there are 250 fewer oil rigs functioning today than were working before the pandemic. She says about 9,500 permits issued for drilling on federal land are not being used and that there are 150,000 fewer workers in the oil and gas industry.
“At the same time the energy industry is making enormous profits,” said Granholm. “They’re back up to above where they were before the pandemic started. So they have taken advantage of that moment—the profits—to be able to take part in shareholder buy-backs, for example.”
The Epoch Times reached out to the oil companies Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Marathon and Valero to respond to the secretary’s comments, but did not receive a reply in time for the publication of this story.
The average cost of a gallon nationwide, as of Nov. 23, is more than $3.40—up a little less than $1.30 from last year, according to AAA.
White House officials have framed the use of the country’s SPR as an attempt slow the rise of prices in the short term, but have not offered assurances that Americans will see price decreases before Christmas.
In the long term, officials say the administration plans to move away from fossil fuel consumption and expand its use of “clean” energy.
India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom have all agreed to release additional oil from their reserves and Biden says China “may do more as well.”
In an address on Nov. 23, Biden admitted the U.S. action, along with other countries, to tap into oil reserves would “not solve the problem of high gas prices overnight,” but said it would “make a difference.”
White House officials continue to point to the spread of COVID-19 as a cause for price fluctuation at the pump and say the administration will continue to consider the full range of tools at its disposal to bring the prices down.
But Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Ronna McDaniel blames Biden for the high prices Americans will pay over the Thanksgiving holiday:
“Joe Biden’s failed leadership caused skyrocketing prices, and now American families are paying more for gas, groceries, and everything this Thanksgiving. Biden’s Build Back Broke agenda does not cost $0—it would pump trillions of dollars in reckless spending into the economy, further increasing prices and raising taxes on hardworking Americans,” said McDaniel in a statement.
“In Biden’s America, you have to empty your wallet to fill your plate this Thanksgiving.”
The White House has also called on the oil producing countries of OPEC to increase supply. An OPEC meeting is scheduled for next week and the member states have committed to releasing an additional 400,000 barrels of oil per day starting in December 2021.