Murkowski: Latest Biden Oil ‘Plan’ is Half-Baked, Irresponsible

‘The Weakest Possible Effort to Shift Blame for Rising Gas Prices’

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement after President Biden announced he would release approximately 180 million barrels of emergency oil reserves over the next six months. In addition, instead of taking meaningful steps to increase domestic oil and gas production, the President called on Congress to impose new fees on domestic oil and gas leaseholders.

“Earlier this week, the President proposed to raise taxes on domestic energy producers by tens of billions of dollars. Today, he announced he will sell off a substantial portion of our emergency oil reserves. While this may increase supply temporarily, it is like selling off the insurance policy. It does little to increase domestic production. What he laid out isn’t a responsible plan; it’s the weakest possible effort to shift blame for rising gas prices,” Senator Murkowski said. “The administration can come up with all of the half-baked strategies it wants, including ideas from the past that have repeatedly been rejected, but they will fail to solve the fundamental problem staring them in the face until they embrace the need for more domestic production. For the administration to claim they are doing everything they can to increase production is a fantasy.”  

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) contains approximately 588 million barrels of oil that are to be released in the event of “severe energy supply interruptions,” not simply rising prices that have been worsened by 15 months of misguided administration policy. A large-scale SPR sale may temporarily reduce global oil prices by a small amount, but is insufficient to offset the current price increase, sends the wrong signal for domestic production, and runs the risk of leaving the U.S. short-handed on emergency reserves in the event of a longer-term crisis. Just four weeks ago, the President announced a separate selloff of 30 million barrels from the SPR, which did nothing to restrain prices.

The “use it or lose it” concept – which assumes that American oil and gas companies pay millions of dollars to the federal government for leases with no intention of ever developing them – ignores the realities and difficulties of receiving approval for energy production on federal lands. Not every lease contains developable resources; major projects – like Willow, in northeast Alaska – are actively being held up by the federal government or by the courts; and leases are, by definition, already “use it or lose it” by virtue of their contractual terms. This will do little or no good in encouraging domestic production unless the administration follows them with more realistic permitting and eliminating unreasonable delays.

Murkowski, the former Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, strongly supports greater domestic energy and mineral development, particularly in her home state of Alaska—the nation’s resource storehouse. Among other major policy improvements, she led congressional efforts to open the 1002 Area of ANWR to responsible development in 2017 and included her federal mine permitting reforms in the bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021. She continues to call on the Biden administration to expand access to federal areas for responsible development; to approve permits for key energy projects on a timely basis without deliberate delay; and to expedite the infrastructure, such as pipelines, needed to support them.


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