Top Republican on Energy committee says too little too late after Biden taps oil reserve

US joins global effort to drive down gas prices as OPEC+ withholds oil supplies

Ranking Member on the Senate Energy Committee Sen. John Barrasso said Tuesday that President Biden’s decision to tap into U.S. oil reserves was no "substitute" for addressing gas shortages.

"President Biden’s policies are hiking inflation and energy prices for the American people," Barrasso, R-Wyo., told FOX Business. "Tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will not fix the problem."

BIDEN TO RELEASE 50M BARRELS OF OIL FROM STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE AMID GAS PRICE SPIKE

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., speaks alongside other Republican Senators during a press conference on rising gas an energy prices at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 27, 2021 in Washington, D.C.  (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The senator’s comments came just moments after the White House announced that the Department of Energy will release 50 million barrels of oil held in U.S. reserves. 

In a globally coordinated effort China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom will tap their own reserves to try and bring down prices at the pump. 

The move is an attempt to counter OPEC+ efforts to keep gas prices artificially up after nations like Saudi Arabia and Russia refused to introduce more oil into the market earlier this month. 

Shortages in the post-pandemic market have meant gas prices have hit a seven-year high and inflation has spiked.

While the White House has said OPEC’s refusal to respond to renewed demand is a leading factor in shortages, Republicans argue the administration’s policies are a bigger problem. 

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., during a press conference on rising gas an energy prices at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 27, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Republicans are placing blame on the Biden administration for the quickly rising gas prices this year as pre (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

CONCERNS MOUNT ON ENERGY PROVISIONS WITHIN DEMOCRAT SPENDING BILL

"We are experiencing higher prices because the administration and Democrats in Congress are waging a war on American energy," Barrasso said. "President Biden has either eliminated or severely restricted access to America’s oil and natural gas resources on federal lands and waters."

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Biden has made reducing greenhouse gas emissions a cornerstone policy of his presidency, but some are concerned it will unfairly hurt the U.S. economy as the president pushes the nation to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. 

"Begging OPEC and Russia to increase production and now using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are desperate attempts to address a Biden-caused disaster. They’re not substitutes for American energy production," Barrasso told FOX Business. 

The White House said Tuesday that of the 50 million barrels set to be released, 32 million will eventually be returned to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

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The remaining 18 million are a part of a previous congressionally approved sale that the administration is now looking to accelerate. 

"Today’s announcement reflects the President’s commitment to do everything in his power to bring down costs for the American people and continue our strong economic recovery," the White House said in a statement. "At the same time, the administration remains committed to the President’s ambitious clean energy goals."

Paul Conner and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.