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Flashback: Biden Downplayed Tapping Emergency Oil Reserve, Said He Couldn’t Control Gas Prices

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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President Joe Biden tapped into the U.S. emergency oil reserves Tuesday despite previously throwing cold water on the idea that he said wouldn’t have much effect.

“I don’t have a near-term answer. There’s two things I could do: I could go in the petroleum reserve and take out and probably reduce [sic] — reduce the price of gas maybe 18 cents or so a gallon,” Biden said during an October town hall. “It’s still going to be above three bucks.”

“But it’s going to be hard,” he continued. “It’s going to be hard.” (RELATED: ‘Will Not Fix The Problem’: Biden Releasing Oil Reserves Due To Politics, Critics Say)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to comment on a question about Biden’s words during a press briefing following the town hall.

On Tuesday, the White House unveiled plans to withdraw 50 million barrels of oil, citing high prices for Americans at the pump. The average cost of gasoline hit $3.40 per gallon on Tuesday, up 61% compared to one year ago, according to a AAA database.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and former Secretary of State John Kerry listens during a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate in April. (Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden delivers remarks as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and former Secretary of State John Kerry listens during a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate in April. (Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images)

However, oil prices, a key factor in determining gasoline prices, surged following Biden’s announcement. The market had already priced the action into the cost of oil, experts and industry analyses said.

“If such a release is confirmed and manages to keep oil prices depressed in the context of low trading activity into year-end, it would create clear upside risks to our 2022 price forecast,” a Goldman Sachs industry report published in mid-November said, warning of a potential negative impact of the move.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers have taken a different approach to combating rising energy costs for consumers. On Monday, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would offer gas tax relief for working families.

“Gas prices have been rising due to inflationary pressures from bad federal policies, so we here in Florida need to step up and provide relief to our citizens,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Today, I am proposing that during session, the Florida Legislature provide more than $1 billion in gas tax relief for Florida families. This will have a positive impact on millions of Floridians.”

Americans pay up to 85 cents per gallon of gas in taxes depending on the state in which they buy it, according to American Petroleum Institute data.

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