(Reuters) -President Joe Biden’s administration should tap into emergency petroleum reserves to lower rising gasoline prices as Americans go into the holiday season, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday.
“We’re here today because we need immediate relief at the gas pump and the place to look is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” Schumer, a Democrat, said at a news conference in New York.
Soaring gas prices and car sales drove a solid increase in U.S. producer prices in October as oil prices hit more than $80 a barrel, with OPEC and its allies rebuffing U.S. pleas for the producers to pump more crude.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said last Monday Biden could act, but there was still no word on whether he would authorize a sale from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is held in a series of caverns on the Texas and Louisiana coasts.
Analysts have warned a release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would only produce a short-term effect, as it would not increase U.S. production capacity.
As the U.S. economy reawakens after the coronavirus pandemic, supply and demand cannot keep up, especially with supply chain disruptions, Schumer said.
“No industry is spared. But fuel gasoline is the worst of all,” Schumer said. “Let’s get the price of gas down right now. And this will do it.”
Last week, 11 Senate Democrats urged Biden in a letter to tap the SPR and ban crude oil exports to lower gas prices, citing OPEC constraints on supplies and U.S. exports.
“Continued U.S. exports and overseas supply collusion could be devastating to many in our states, contributing to higher bills for American families and businesses,” the senators, from New England states and Pennsylvania, wrote on Nov. 8.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Shumaker)