Biden is tapping oil reserves to try to bring down high gas prices

Gasoline prices on Nov. 17 in Miami Beach, Fla. The White House says oil prices have come down as speculation grew that the United States and other consumers would tap their reserves.
Gasoline prices on Nov. 17 in Miami Beach, Fla. The White House says oil prices have come down as speculation grew that the United States and other consumers would tap their reserves. [Marta Lavandier / AP]

The United States plans to draw 50 million barrels of oil from its emergency oil reserves in coming months, a widely anticipated step aimed at trying to take the edge off high prices that have been hurting consumers at the pump — and hurting President Biden in the polls.

Price inflation has emerged as a top political concern with voters, who have seen prices for gasoline and other staples surge in recent months. Biden has been talking with other leaders about the problem, and other major consumers — China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom — will take similar steps to release oil from their stockpiles, the White House said on Tuesday.

The news comes during one of the busiest driving times of the year, as Americans drive to visit family members for Thanksgiving, though it will take some time before the move can translate to lower gas prices.

"The markets have been out of whack since COVID hit," a senior administration official told reporters after the move was announced. "We had prices go incredibly low and now we have prices going high, and supply not matching demand, and causing a lot of pain at the pump for American consumers."

The White House said that the anticipation of the move has already helped bring down oil prices about 10% during the last few weeks. That decline hasn't yet translated to cheaper gas for consumers. Administration officials wouldn't say when they thought Americans might see relief.

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