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Biden authorizes release from US strategic oil reserve, which officials say should lower gas prices

Biden Gas Prices
Matt Rourke
Fuel prices are posted at a filling station in Willow Grove, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. The White House on Tuesday said it had ordered 50 million barrels of oil released from strategic reserve to bring down energy costs.

The deputy director the National Economic Council Tuesday touted the Biden Administration's efforts to reduce gas and heating oil prices amid sharp increases in Maine and across the country.

Earlier this month average gas prices in Maine hit $3.38 per gallon, a 28-cent jump from October and the highest average price here in 8 years, according to GasBuddy.com.

Heating oil prices were just over $3 per gallon in October, according to the state energy office.

David Kamin, deputy director of the National Economic Council, told Maine Public Radio Tuesday that the president's decision to release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should lower prices and help supply meet surging demand across the country.

Kamin also said there is mounting evidence that declines in oil prices are not being reflected at the gas pump, which is why President Biden last week asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether dealers are engaging in anti-competitive tactics.

"So we're approaching this two ways, both when it comes to the global supply of oil, in order to get those prices down, and also, by making sure that those savings get passed on to consumers," Kamin said.

Average Maine gas prices are roughly equivalent to nearby New Hampshire and Vermont and all three states have a significant dependence on home heating oil.

The issue of gas and oil prices is also political, as Republicans continue to assert that the spike in prices is a result of policies pushed by Democrats, who currently control Congress and the White House.

The White House contends that the price spikes are the result of an economic recovery and consumer demand that have outpaced supplies that lagged amid the pandemic.