WASHINGTON – Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs Chairman Pat Fallon (R-Texas) opened today’s subcommittee hearing to examine how the Biden Administration’s decision to deplete the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to historic lows and attack on American-Made energy poses national security risks.
Below are Subcommittee Chairman Fallon’s remarks as prepared for delivery.
It’s an honor to Chair the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs. I’d like to thank the witnesses for their testimony today and I look forward to working with Ranking Member Bush to provide necessary oversight of these crucial sectors.
Today’s hearing will be on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or SPR for short.
The decisions that led to the largest drawdown of our vital oil in history requires oversight. At its height, the SPR was at 695 million barrels under the previous Administration. It now sits at 371 million barrels, a 47% reduction— nearly half!
On his first day in office, Joe Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline, killing thousands of high-paying American jobs and openly attacking the oil and gas industry.
Less than a week later, Mr. Biden placed a moratorium on federal on and offshore oil and natural gas leases.
These actions increased the average price of gasoline to record highs by the summer of 2022, forcing Americans already struggling with out-of-control inflation to foot the bill for poor policy.
In an attempt to hide the failed results of an all-of-government war on our domestic energy industry, the Administration recklessly turned to the SPR.
Joe Biden authorized the biggest drawdown in history, releasing more oil from the SPR than all other previous administrations combined. Let me say that again.
In the last two years, more oil has been siphoned off of our reserves than in the previous 46 years. For a quick bit of history, the SPR was founded in 1975 for national security reason to protect our country in times of war, national emergencies, or severe acts of God.
Now seven months after President Biden authorized the first release of crude, gas prices reached an all-time high of $5.01 a gallon in June 2022.
Then the Administration tried to claim it was all Putin’s fault.
Newsflash. It wasn’t.
Despite the Administration’s flimsy claim that “Putin’s Price Hike” necessitated the drawdowns, the truth is that Mr. Biden set us up for failure long before Russia crossed the border into Ukraine.
Shockingly, instead of cutting red tape and allowing domestic producers to even the scales of supply and demand—which would have driven down prices for consumers and alleviated pressure on our European allies—Joe Biden instead attacked American companies. He asked mini-Putins like Venezuela to increase production instead of just unleashing the American energy sector.
President Biden accused them of “price gouging” and demanded they ramp up production while refusing to acknowledge his Administration’s his role in the energy crisis.
His cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, moratorium of federal onshore and offshore oil and natural gas, and attacks on American energy have driven this crisis.
Rather than lower energy prices, encourage domestic industry, support good-paying jobs, the Biden Administration used the SPR as a stopgap to lower energy prices before the November midterm elections.
Further, the Administration sold millions of barrels of our crude to companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
Why is the Biden Administration depleting our own emergency stockpiles to benefit foreign adversaries?
In fact, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin just issued a memorandum to his forces last week that “an increasingly aggressive China is trying to shape the international rules-based system to suit its authoritarian preferences.”
So why is President Biden draining our SPR to fill China’s? China has nearly 1 billion barrels of oil in their reserves. We now have just about a third of that.
That is unacceptable.
This hearing will examine why the Biden Administration is draining our SPR, the national security concerns with depleted reserves, the long-term implications of a renewables-exclusive political approach, and practical policy solutions to ensure energy affordability and security for years to come.
We know that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was formed to protect our country in a time of war, national emergency, or from the effects of an act of God.
Did any of these happen over the last two years?
Are we at war? No!
Did we have a severe act of God? No!
Did we suffer through a national emergency that would have necessitated a tapping of the SPR? No!
So why under this Administration were 267 million barrels depleted from our emergency reserve?
This is the fundamental question that this hearing must help us answer: Did Joe Biden risk our national security and deplete our reserves by over 40% in a vain attempt to curry short-term political gain before a midterm election?
Thank you, and I recognize Ranking Member Bush for her opening statement.