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SPR Wars: The Chamber Strikes Back


A battle is brewing over the future of the country’s underground oil stock…again.

House Republicans are preparing a bill that would ban releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve unless the government approves a corresponding increase in domestic oil and gas production on federal lands, writes POLITICO reporter Josh Siegel.

The bill is a rebuke of President Joe Biden, who sold 40% of underground stock in an effort to drive down gasoline prices. The administration says the move helped lower the national average to $3.48 a gallon today, from more than $5 in June.

GOP lawmakers have spent the summer blaming Biden for the price hike – leaving Democrats to try to explain to angry motorists that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was disrupting global oil markets that US presidents have little ability to control.

Now Republicans are grappling with the explanatory role as they argue that dipping into the stockpile for anything other than an emergency endangers national security. (The underground network of salt caverns was created in response to the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which led to a national fuel shortage and soaring prices.)

While Biden has a recovery plan the stock, it is true that he has extracted far more crude oil than any former president – he has fallen from 266 million to 638 million barrels since he took office – leaving the reserve to his lowest level since 1983. But he is not the first to tap into this offer.

Over the years, Congress has turned towards the reserve for emergency and non-emergency reasons, with lawmakers on both sides approving sales to pay for needs such as overhauling drug approvals or government funding

Former President Donald Trump once offered to sell half of the reserve to reduce the budget deficit, and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, argues that the whole should be liquidated.

While the House legislation is unlikely to go far under a Democratic administration, Republicans are using it to send a message of disapproval and vent their frustration with Biden’s broader efforts to wean the economy off fossil fuels. that lead to climate change.

The big question is, will drivers care about this political fight now that fuel costs are no longer exploding their wallets?

It’s Wednesday thanks for listening POLITICO Power Switch. I am your host, Arianna Skibell. Power Switch is brought to you by the journalists behind E&E news and POLITICO Energy. Send your advice, comments, questions to [email protected]

Today in the POLITICO Energy podcast: Jordan Wolman explains how Pennsylvania’s transition from coal mining to natural gas drilling is costing the state lost tax revenue.

The Biden administration took office with a promise to tear down Trump-era environmental policies in favor of tougher rules, writes Robin Bravender.

But two years into Biden’s term, some of those policy reversals aren’t over.

With Biden halfway through his term and Republicans now holding a majority in the House, conservationists are concerned about the pace of the administration. Failing to solidify new policies in time, they warn, could make them easier to unravel by a future administration.

Manchin slaps back
Sen. Joe Manchin hit out at the Biden administration on Wednesday by releasing a bill that would restrict subsidies to electric vehicles with batteries not made in the United States, write Hannah Northey and David Ferris.

The West Virginia Democrat’s office also suggested the bill would require some electric car buyers who got a tax credit under the Inflation Reduction Act to return the money.

One basket, all the eggs
As Massachusetts races to reduce its carbon pollution, the state has repeatedly turned to one company for clean energy. Now that approach could jeopardize its climate goals, writes Benjamin Storrow.

Avangrid has won three of five long-term power contracts awarded by Massachusetts since 2017. Since then, two of the company’s projects have failed: a major offshore wind farm and a transmission line for hydroelectricity.

The Russian War
The UN nuclear watchdog sends a strong warning: as Kyiv and Moscow prepare for military offensives in the coming months, the risk of an accident at Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant will increase, writes Victor Jack.

“[A]Any increase in shelling and shelling will undoubtedly increase the possibility of a nuclear accident,” International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told Victor Rafael.

The end is near: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set the Doomsday Clock at 90 to 12, citing the war in Ukraine, climate change and online misinformation.

State of affairs: Electricity bills may continue to shock you even as headline inflation declines. Here’s why.

A showcase of some of our best subscriber content.

A federal appeals court with a history of denied permits for the Mountain Valley pipeline looks likely to maintain one of the natural gas project’s approvals.

APE proposed to reject the six candidates it received from power plants seeking to keep their unlined coal ash ponds in operation.

Portugal agreed to forgive $152 million in debt from the island nation of Cape Verde in exchange for Cape Verde directing that money towards climate and environmental efforts.

That’s all for today, friends! Thanks for reading.