WASHINGTON - Momentum is building on Capitol Hill for an idea some lawmakers think could help ease gas prices.
A group of senators is demanding that President Joe Biden release supply form the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves – but, some experts warn – that could do more harm than good.
As of Tuesday night, AAA says the average price of a gallon of gas in DC is $3.66 – meanwhile, it’s $3.35 in Maryland and $3.27 in Virginia.
The national average is sitting at $3.41 – an increase of 60% over last Thanksgiving. Now, Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen and 11 of his colleagues are demanding that the Biden administration release gas supply into the market – Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is leading the call.
Simultaneously, Schumer also wants to accelerate taking the U.S. off fossil fuels.
"We need immediate relief at the gas pump, and the place to look is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. So that's why I'm urging the administration to tap that reserve, get the prices down, and then we have to embark on a full-time campaign to get us away from carbon fuels altogether," Schumer said.
The high gas prices are fueling the jump in inflation, now at its highest rate in 30 years – companies from grocery stores, airlines, and manufactures passing higher fuel costs onto consumers. But Phil Flynn, senior analyst for Price Futures Group, warns that releasing the strategic supply would make things worse.
"So what’s going to happen is if you give a one-time shot of oil to the market, you’re only going to increase demand and it’s not going to work. It’s going to bring down prices maybe for a short period of time but it’s actually going to make prices go up higher in the future," Flynn said.
Experts say the answer is here at home. Flynn and other analysts say that in 2021, the U.S. domestic oil industry has enough energy to meet the need, but that would require the administration to allow the oil industry to expand gas production.
With its emphasis on green energy, the administration is reluctant to pursue such a course.