Biden administration considers action to ease gas price hikes

Photo (c) Anton Petrus - Getty Images

Secretary of Energy Granholm says the U.S. could release oil from its strategic reserve

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says the Biden administration is considering withdrawals from the U.S. petroleum reserve in an effort to bring down gasoline prices, which have been at seven-year highs since early summer.

Interviewed on CNN Sunday, Granholm said the administration is considering a wide range of options to reduce the pain at the pump. She noted that OPEC rejected a request from Washington to increase oil production, which she said is keeping prices high.

"That is going to increase the chokehold on access to affordable fuel at the pump, and so the president is looking at all of the tools that he has," Granholm said. 

Critics point to a potential disaster

But Rick Perry, who served as energy secretary during the Trump administration, says the current administration isn’t doing everything possible to increase gasoline supplies. In an interview with CNBC, he said the administration is reducing U.S. energy output and setting up a potential “disaster.”

“The Biden administration’s restrictive actions — no to pipelines, no to drilling, no to the financing of oil and gas projects overseas ... is a stunning reversal of the energy independence achieved under the Trump administration,” Perry said.

Higher fuel costs have begun to feed inflation, directly affecting the cost of other goods and services. Several people posting reviews of auto transport companies have attributed the higher costs they faced to surging fuel prices.

“The price was a little high,” Astrid, of Yonkers, N.Y., wrote in a recent review of Montway Auto Transport. “However, given this situation with gas prices, I guess it is what it is. I needed to move, so I paid it.”

Prepare for higher heating bills

While there might be immediate relief at the pump for consumers, Granholm also warns that Americans should be prepared for higher heating bills this winter. Natural gas prices have doubled from last winter, while oil and propane costs have risen at least as much.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $3.37 billion in relief funds through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help low-income individuals and families deal with rising utility bills. Officials said they may be able to tap additional funds from other programs to help.

Economists say global oil and gas production hasn’t increased as quickly as demand as the world recovers from the pandemic. Supply chain bottlenecks have also contributed to higher costs.

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