Just months after fact checkers rushed to the defense of the Biden administration in the wake of its decision to sell U.S. oil reserves to China, a New Jersey Democratic congressman is moving to ban the practice.
Rep. Frank Pallone on Sept. 26 introduced the Buy Low and Sell High Act, which would help "us regain control of domestic gas prices" in part by banning the sale of Strategic Petroleum Reserve barrels to any entity "owned, controlled, or influenced" by China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, the Washington Examiner reported. The move will likely come as a surprise to some of the country's leading fact checkers, who tut-tutted a Washington Free Beacon report in July indicating that the Biden administration sold hundreds of thousands of emergency reserve barrels to a Chinese state-controlled company.
"There's no reason for outrage. … The Biden administration is seeking to lower the global price of crude oil by bolstering supply around the globe," the Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler wrote at the time. "Selling crude oil to traders, whether based in the United States, Europe, or Asia, is part of that effort. Anyone who suggests the Biden administration is doing something wrong here … earns Three Pinocchios." PolitiFact similarly defended the sale, which it said "accomplishes the policy goal of lowering oil prices." White House adviser Ian Sams quickly used those reports to accuse Republicans of "pushing false conspiracies about the president."
Pallone apparently disagrees. His bill orders Biden's energy secretary to "issue a rule" prohibiting "the export or sale of petroleum products drawn down from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve" to "any entity owned, controlled, or influenced by … the Chinese Communist Party." That provision, the legislation states, would help "lower consumer fuel prices."
Pallone is not the only member of Congress working to ban the sale of emergency reserve oil to China. Sen. Dan Sullivan's (R., Alaska) Replenishing Our American Reserves Act calls for the energy secretary to "only draw down and sell petroleum products from the Reserve to entities within the United States."
The White House did not return a request for comment.
America's oil reserves have shrunk to record low levels under President Joe Biden. As of Sept. 30, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve held just 416.4 million barrels—the lowest level since 1984—after Biden released another 6.2 million barrels from the emergency stockpile. Biden is reportedly weighing the release of another 100 million barrels, Energy Aspects head of research Amrita Sen told CNBC Monday.
China has taken advantage of Biden's decision to deplete America's oil reserves, with the communist nation buying from the United States as it adds to its own petroleum stockpile. In February, Chinese state-controlled oil giant Unipec launched an "unusual buying spree" to boost China's oil reserves. Just two months later, in April, the Biden administration sold Unipec roughly one million Strategic Petroleum Reserve barrels. By mid-May, China increased its oil reserves from 869 million barrels to 926 million barrels—just months earlier, Biden predicted the communist nation would release oil from its reserves to help lower gas prices.
"At a time when millions of Americans are suffering financially at the gas pump, Joe Biden is helping replenish our biggest adversary's energy reserves with our own damn oil," Rep. Mike Waltz (R., Fla.) told the Free Beacon in July. "It's astonishing how clueless this administration is when it comes to trusting bad actors like China to help alleviate our economy."