Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are urging President Joe Biden to release crude oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and reinstate a ban on oil exports to help drive down surging energy prices.
The Democrats told Biden in a letter spearheaded by California Democrat Ro Khanna that urgent action was needed to ensure "affordable and reliable energy for American families."
The letter, first reported by CNN, calls on Biden to "use all tools at our disposal to bring down gasoline prices in the short term." Khanna's spokesperson confirmed the letter, which was signed by nearly a dozen Democrats.
The U.S. Department of Energy is expected to announce a loan of oil from the SPR on Tuesday in coordination with several other countries, a Biden administration source familiar with the situation said.
Biden is due to give a speech on the U.S. economy and his administration's efforts to reverse surging costs on Tuesday.
Reports about a coordinated release of oil from several countries' reserves drove down oil prices sharply last week.
The Democrats say a ban on oil exports could boost domestic supplies and further lower consumer prices, which recently hit a 31-year high.
The Congress voted in 2015 to repeal a 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil in an energy policy shift sought by Republicans as part of a bipartisan deal that also provided unprecedented tax incentives for wind and solar power.
Biden has authority under the legislation to declare an emergency and limit or stop oil exports for up to a year, although experts say the odds of him doing so are slim.
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