Biden Energy Sec. Granholm admits she does not know U.S. oil consumption rate when pressed by reporter

Biden's plan to release 50M barrels of oil would last less than three days, reporter suggests

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday admitted that she did not know how many barrels of oil the U.S. consumes per day when a reporter suggested that the 50 million barrels the Energy Department plans to release would last less than three days.

Granholm during a White House briefing Tuesday, outlined Biden's strategy to release the barrels of oil currently held in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to maintain "adequate supply" amid global shortages and skyrocketing gas prices.


A reporter who was present for her remarks asked the energy secretary, "How many barrels of oil does the U.S. consume per day?"

"I don't have that number in front of me. Sorry," Granholm replied.

In 2020, the United States consumed an average of about 18.19 million barrels of petroleum per day, or a total of about 6.66 billion barrels of petroleum-- the lowest level of annual consumption since 1995. The drop in consumption in 2020 from 2019 was the largest recorded annual decline in U.S. petroleum demand., and was largely the result of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

The reporter told Granholm that according to those numbers, the administration would be releasing "less than three days worth of supply from the Petroleum Reserve."

Granholm nodded, dismissing the grim observation. 

Biden's pressure on 14-nation OPEC and Russia to pump more supply into the global market has so far had little effect. The administration has blamed higher prices in part on the effects of the economy recovering and restarting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also singled out energy companies for alleged anti-competitive behavior. Biden last week asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether "illegal conduct" is driving up prices at the pump for Americans.

SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 16: Gasoline prices are displayed at a gas station on November 16, 2021 in San Mateo County, California. (Photo by Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images) (Photo by Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"There is mounting evidence that declines in oil prices are not translating into lower prices at the pump," the White House said Tuesday.

Americans paid an average of $3.29 per gallon in October, according to U.S. data, the highest since September 2014. 


Granholm touted the action to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a testament to the President’s  "commitment to using the tools available to bring down costs for working families and to continue our economic recovery."

As of Nov. 19, there are 604.5 million barrels in the U.S. Strategic Reserve, according to the Department of Energy. 

Fox News' Brook Singman and Paul Conner contributed to this report.