The White House has announced that it will release 50 million barrels from its oil reserves. It is part of a wider bid to combat escalating energy prices across the world. Britain, China and India have joined the US-led coalition to cool markets after prices soared to record highs.
The price of oil has risen by more than 70 percent over the last 12 months following a sharp global increase in demand.
It follows a similar trend seen in gas and comes after Russia has been slammed for using fossil fuels as “geopolitical weapons” against the EU.
And it could further push tensions.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus (OPEC+), which includes Moscow, have said they may respond to the US move by canceling plans to boost production from their own reserves.
Mr Biden said yesterday: “Today I’m announcing action to lower the cost of gas and oil for American families.
“The Department of Energy will make available releases of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gas and oil prices for Americans.
“I have been working with countries across the world to address the lack of supply.
“As a result of our diplomatic efforts, this step will be taken in parallel with other major energy-consuming nations including China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the UK.”
The White House is trying to curtail elevated petrol prices and energy bills.
But it comes after a conscious effort from Mr Biden to shift reliance away from fossil fuels.
The US President had earned the applause of environmentalists, activists and campaigners for scrapping the Keystone XL pipeline upon taking office.
Keystone XL had been projected to carry oil nearly 1,200 miles (1,900km) from the Canadian province of Alberta down to Nebraska, to join an existing pipeline, but was fiercely objected to by activists.
Although activists and Michigan’s state government has warned that the pipeline poses a catastrophic pollution risk to Great Lakes, the oil and gas industry, backed by the Canadian government, warned Mr Biden that closing it will drive fuel prices even higher.
But while the US reduced its reliance and production of fossil fuels, Russia has continued to be one of the world’s leading providers.
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They have profited from the global energy crunch in recent months.
Leading US entrepreneur Cameron Winklevoss commented on Twitter: “The fact that the US government is now tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to fight rising gas and oil prices is an admission that US is now at war with inflation.
“We are in crisis. There is no denying it anymore.”
Biden and administration officials insist that tapping more oil from the reserve does not conflict with his climate goals, because this short-term fix meets a specific problem, while climate policies are a long-term answer over decades.
They argue that the administration’s push to boost renewable energy will eventually mean less dependence in the U.S. on fossil fuels.
But that’s a politically convenient argument — in simple terms, higher prices reduce usage, and significantly higher gasoline prices could force Americans into less reliance on fossil fuels.
The White House decision came after weeks of diplomatic negotiations.
Biden and President Xi Jinping of China talked over steps to counter tight petroleum supplies in their virtual meeting earlier this month and “discussed the importance of taking measures to address global energy supplies”.