Protecting America's Strategic Petroleum Reserve From China Act

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 12, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. FLETCHER. Mr. Speaker, energy security is a key component of our national security. Our energy exports have a security impact around the world as they do here at home. That is why I am disappointed this morning to hear many of my friends across the aisle criticizing and blaming President Biden for taking action to lower gas prices for American consumers and to weaken Russia's ability to fund its unconscionable and unjustified war that is unprovoked against Ukraine by selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The SPR is a critical foreign policy tool and energy security tool, and it has been for more than 40 years. The SPR was created for this precise purpose for this moment that we are living in, and these recent sales--like every sale of crude in the U.S.--are made on the open market to any entity wishing to purchase it.

The effective utilization of the SPR has successfully lowered costs at the pump for Americans over the last year. In December, The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Government made roughly $4 billion in profits last year from the sale of crude oil out of the SPR. This is an important point to remember because it is the direct work of this body.

In 2015, the Energy and Commerce Committee under Republican leadership lifted the 40-year ban on crude oil exports. I wasn't here at the time, but if I had been, I would have supported my Republican colleagues in that effort to acknowledge the global free market for the commodity and the importance of ensuring America's energy security and leadership.

But it isn't right to complain now for those who support free trade in oil and for those who voted for it then to complain that the system worked as it was intended to. The oil from the SPR was put on the global market which increased supply and brought prices down here at home.

Some of the oil sold by design onto the global market made its way to China. This was not an unforeseen consequence. The then-majority on the Energy and Commerce Committee explicitly rejected a proposal by a Democratic member of the committee at the time, Mr. Green from Houston, to license the export of crude oil the way we license LNG exports which requires the Department of Energy to approve the sales. Requiring DOE approval on crude sales could have prevented the sales that are now of concern.

That said, I appreciate that this is a step toward addressing those concerns. But I am also concerned that this alone is insufficient, and we need a more robust mechanism to address any sales of concern.

Certainly, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle would be concerned about sales to North Korea or Iran or other adversaries. That is why in the last Congress I supported my colleague from Pennsylvania, Chrissy Houlahan's, bipartisan bill that would have closed the loophole to allow the sale or export of oil from the SPR to foreign adversaries.

There is still work to do here, and I hope that moving forward we can work together to craft smart energy policy that enhances our energy security and best serves the American people.