A federal watchdog is suing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for failing to release documents related to the Biden administration’s decision to tap into emergency oil reserves amid global supply shortages.
In a complaint filed last Monday, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI), a nonprofit transparency group, alleged that President Joe Biden’s DOE is “wrongfully withholding” information on its deployment of millions of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). The watchdog filed a Freedom of Information Act request in January 2022 for records dating back one year with the keywords “Biden poll numbers,” “oil supply imbalance,” “inflation” and others.
FGI spokesman Pete McGinnis told the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF), “Rising gas prices that are a direct result of the administration’s failed energy policy is not an emergency. Every time we release oil from the SPR, or sell it to China for that matter, we put our national security at risk by unnecessarily depleting our emergency oil reserves. Americans deserve to know if the motive behind these initial releases were political.”
The SPR holds an emergency stockpile of petroleum inventory in four sites underground in Texas and Louisiana, according to the DOE. The SPR was launched after Arab members of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) introduced an oil embargo against the U.S. for resupplying the Israeli military during the Arab-Israeli war in 1975.
In November of 2021, Biden announced the release of 50 million barrels from the reserves, the largest in American history. His administration also ordered the release of 180 million barrels in March of 2022 for the next six months.
Even though Biden proclaimed at the time that this would lower gas prices in the U.S., it minimally lowered gas prices, according to federal data.
The FGI wrote in their complaint, “By failing to disclose its promised search terms, DOE has precluded its own production of all responsive, non-exempt records, and is therefore wrongfully withholding agency records subject to release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The FGI’s suit followed after a report by the Washington Free Beacon on Thursday detailing how Biden’s DOE sold around one million barrels of oil from the SPR to a gas company controlled by the Chinese government. The moves raise ethics questions given Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, co-founded a private equity firm that purchased a $1.7 billion state in the company.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that U.S. crude oil inventories have reached their lowest levels since 2004. The SPR has been depleted to its lowest levels since 1986. Gas was clocking in at an average of over $4.70 per gallon last Friday according to AAA, while inflation surged in May at the fastest pace in forty years.
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