President Biden plans to release 180 million barrels of oil from the U.S. national oil stockpile over the next six months in an effort to lower gas prices, the president announced Thursday.
Over those six months, the U.S. will release around one million barrels a day. Assuming the plan continues on the course outlined by Biden, this will be the largest amount of oil released from the stockpile since the stockpile was founded in the 1970s. It is one of the only things the president can do directly that could sway the cost of fuel.
Roger Read, an energy analyst for Wells Fargo Securities, told CNBC that releasing oil barrels “helps, but it’s unlikely to solve the problem. In the end, I think it’s a little bit of a band-aid.”
In addition to the release of oil barrels, President Biden also called on Congress to issue fines on companies who own land for drilling oil but are not using them, in an effort to create more American oil production.
The move comes in the midst of historically high gas prices all over the country and the world, with average per-gallon costs in the US being nearly $1.50 more expensive than they were last year, according to The New York Times. The increased gas price has also had effects on other goods, factoring into the general inflation of the past few years, according to CNBC.
Democrats and the Biden administration blame the Russian invasion of Ukraine for increased prices, though that is not a universal sentiment. Whatever the cause, these economic woes have been felt by Americans all throughout the country: the same Americans who will be voting in the midterm elections later this year in November.
A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday said that 41% of people blame the administration’s policies for increased gas prices, compared to 24% blaming the war in Ukraine and 24% on oil companies themselves. The issue of gas prices will likely be one of the defining issues of the upcoming election.