Former Vice President Joe Biden plans to tap the nation’s oil reserves in January to help lower gas prices, as crude oil has hit a more than two-year high on the possibility that the global supply glut is about to end.
Biden will seek to use the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the stockpile of crude oil owned by the government, to buy time in the hope that prices will fall, according to a person familiar with the plans. The move would be aimed at enticing more investment in U.S. production by easing short-term pressures on consumer prices, according to the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the issue and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods, who was sworn in last week, said in an email to employees that he would be “transforming the company and our portfolio so we can create long-term competitive advantage.” He said the company would reinvest cash into the business “to develop new technologies to address low-cost sources of energy such as shale and deepwater.”
Oil prices fell for a second straight session Friday, dragged down by the stronger dollar and continuing concerns about surging global supplies. Benchmark U.S. crude oil settled down 30 cents at $56.28 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 38 cents to close at $63.78 a barrel in London.
Over the last few weeks, oil prices have fallen as the market has pushed past supply and demand. The United States is expected to begin exporting oil in 2018, taking some out of the global market. International production is also projected to rise while demand for fuel is projected to remain flat, Reuters reported, citing a U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The U.S. Energy Department and EPA are set to hold a public hearing on January 16 in Houston to give ideas for protecting the environment by expanding energy exports. The hearing, which is being sponsored by the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, will examine the increasing trade with countries such as Canada and Mexico as well as the role of shale development in reducing America’s reliance on foreign oil. The debate, which is expected to continue for years, comes as the U.S. considers whether to lift a four-decade ban on crude oil exports.
Biden’s announcement comes amid increasing calls by other politicians to ease limits on energy exports. Both Republican Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling and Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont have called for easing restrictions on exports of coal and liquefied natural gas. Sanders also has called for the loosening of fuel efficiency standards and Keystone XL pipeline restrictions.
“I have been encouraging more energy independence and more fair market competition,” Biden said at a conference last month. “When one country sells oil at the cheapest price in the world, the poor countries at the bottom of the barrel get hurt. So I’m a big believer in the trade policies that level the playing field.”
Biden’s call for more energy independence came as he announced a new initiative to invest $10 million in new fuel efficiency and technology research, aiming to boost fuel efficiency across more than 2 million light-duty vehicles by 2025. He said it would also direct an additional $10 million to $15 million to study the impact of climate change on cities.
At the same time, he praised new fuel economy standards for the new Ford F-150 pickup truck announced last week by Ford. Those standards, he said, will help transform “a less fuel-efficient and slightly more expensive vehicle into a safer and more fuel-efficient and affordable vehicle.”
Biden also said he would be on the sidelines of a global conference on gender equality that has been expanded to four days from three.
On Thursday, he met with two mayors from New York City, Bill de Blasio and Michael Bloomberg, who has just announced plans to run for president. Biden said they were discussing the “irreversible” changes that are occurring in women’s lives.
Biden also was under consideration by President Barack Obama for the vice president’s office, a post that was given to Clinton. But the former vice president ended his presidential campaign early, a move seen by many as a signal that Biden wasn’t picked for the role.
Author Information: Kelli Kennedy, B. Alan Orange and Jim Acosta are editors of The Washington Times.
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