Biden to release 1 million barrels of gasoline to reduce prices at the pump ahead of July 4


US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on efforts to lower high gas prices in the South Court Auditorium at Eisenhower Executive Office Building June 22, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

The Biden administration will release 1 million barrels of gasoline from reserves held in the Northeast to reduce prices at the pump ahead of the Fourth of July holiday and summer driving season.

“By strategically releasing this reserve in between Memorial Day and July 4th, we are ensuring sufficient supply flows to the tri-state [region] and northeast at a time hardworking Americans need it the most,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement Tuesday.

Gasoline futures have rallied 19% this year as oil prices have risen due to OPEC cutting production and fears the Israel-Hamas war could spark a broader Middle East conflict that disrupts supplies. Rising energy prices stirred speculation in April that the Biden administration might tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Texas and Louisiana ahead of the November presidential election.

White House National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard said last month that the administration would “make sure gas prices remain affordable.”

But gas prices have eased in recent weeks as oil has pulled back from April highs hit when traders bid up crude futures on fears that Israel and OPEC member Iran were on the brink of war.

Prices at the pump averaged $3.59 per gallon nationwide on Tuesday, about 4 cents higher than the year-ago average but lower than last month, according to the motorist association AAA. Though gasoline prices have come down over the past month, broader inflation has remained stubborn, irking consumers.

Retailers and terminals will receive the gasoline no later than June 30, according to the Department of Energy. The supply will be released in quantities of 100,000 barrels to ensure a competitive bidding process that maximizes the impact on prices at the pump, according to the DOE.

The barrels will be sold from storage sites in New Jersey and Maine that are part of the Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve, which was established after Superstorm Sandy knocked out refineries in 2012.

The gasoline sale comes as the separate Strategic Petroleum Reserve has fallen to the lowest level in decades. The Biden administration released 180 million barrels from the SPR in 2022 as energy prices spiked in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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