After President Biden announced an additional 15 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) would be released to combat rising gas prices just weeks before the midterm elections, one American oil industry leader is now calling it the "strategic political reserve" that put us in a "very precarious position."
"This is a very precarious position we're in today at a time of dramatic geopolitical upheaval," American Petroleum Institute president and CEO Mike Sommers told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo Thursday. "We need to have that SPR in place and at the right levels dealing with the current geopolitical situation we're in today."
On "Mornings with Maria," Sommers warned the U.S. could be headed towards record-high gas prices in the coming months, while also cautioning that not implementing the right policy will prevent a return to American energy leadership.
Addressing matters at the White House Wednesday, Biden explained that the administration would be releasing an additional 15 million barrels from the U.S. reserves. He went on to say that he would refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when prices fell below $70 per barrel.
After being asked by a reporter to respond to Republican accusations that the release of the oil reserves was done for political advantage, Biden quickly dismissed the notion.
"It's not politically motivated at all," Biden said. "It's motivated to make sure that I continue to push on what I've been pushing on, and that is making sure there's enough oil that's being pumped by the companies so that we have the ability to be able to produce enough gas that we need here at home, oil we need here at home and at the same time keep moving in a direction of providing for alternative energy."
Sommers argued President Biden has tried to do "everything" to halt domestic oil production "from the very beginning" of this administration.
"We're currently at a point where we have less federal leasing from this administration than we've had in any administration since World War II," Sommers said. "We're at record-level lows. At this point in the Obama administration, they'd done 60 leases in the offshore. So far, [Biden's] only done six."
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"This administration continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth, saying they want more production but not putting more policies in place that would actually encourage more production," the oil industry CEO continued.
A former Keystone XL pipeline welder agreed with Sommers’ sentiments in an interview with FOX Business Wednesday, saying the Biden administration has "everything to do with" high gas prices.
"We need a better system where we got refineries built in different strategic parts of the country, instead of relying on this old system," Neal Crabtree had said.
"But you know, they're just Democrats and environmentalists – they just aren't going to let it happen. I don't know how bad they want the country to suffer before they realize that you can't force everybody to go on green energy."
Oil producers want to see legislation that provides incentives for pumping more while sending a message that oil is a long-term strategic asset for the U.S., Sommers noted, claiming Biden’s current energy policy does the opposite.
"What they need is to advance policies, and we've given them policies that would encourage more production here in the United States. We have a plan, it's called '10 in '22,’" Sommers said. "We've shared it with the administration. They've implemented none of these policies so far."
American Petroleum Institute’s "10 in 2022" initiative proposes a ten-policy plan to restore U.S. energy leadership and independence. Some of those solutions include lifting federal land and water drilling restrictions, designating critical energy projects, and accelerating liquified natural gas applications and exports, according to a news release.
"The headline there is that we need to get permitting reform. We need more lease sales offshore and on federal acreage," Sommers said. "We need to encourage American production, we don't need to discourage it. We have the policies. We just need them implemented."
FOX Business’ Thomas Catenacci and Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report.