New England legislators call for Biden administration to release oil reserves, lower energy costs

Published on September 14, 2022 by Chris Galford

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Fearing the effects of the coming winter season, a bipartisan group of New England senators wrote the Biden administration this week to encourage a release of oil from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.

If the federal government took this action, energy costs for New Englanders could be potentially lowered at a time of painfully high price points and ongoing struggles with inflation. The legislators appeared to hope that this, coupled with other actions, would force prices down and provide homeowners some relief.

“To help combat the increased cost of heating oil, we believe that now is an appropriate time to release inventory from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve, similar to the action you took earlier this year with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at our urging,” the lawmakers wrote. “Doing so can help address constrained regional energy supplies and recent residential energy price increases.”

The situation was made more seemingly dire by an August Short-Term Energy Outlook released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That report predicted a significant increase in energy prices, including an outsized impact on households that rely on natural gas, propane, and heating oil to heat their buildings – common items for the Northeast.

“With lower inventories of crude oil, propane, and natural gas and the continued global disruption caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine contributing to a sharp rise in residential energy costs, we urge the administration to closely monitor the energy needs of the Northeast and release stock from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve,” the legislators wrote. “This action is consistent with the discretion granted to the President under 42 U.S.C. § 6250b, in order to directly and significantly reduce the adverse impact of a significant regional shortage of home heating oil.”

Signatories included U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jack Reed (R-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ed Markey (D-MA).