Rising fuel costs could prove to be a key issue in next year’s midterm elections as Democrats hope to retain control of the House of Representatives and make gains in the Senate.

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Gasoline prices in the US have climbed to around $3.20 a gallon amid rising demand as people return to work and normal life resumes after the COVID pandemic. Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and their allies, known as OPEC+, this week opted not to substantially increase oil supplies. This decision may further increase the prices.

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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told The Financial Times At the Energy Transition Summit Wednesday, President Joe Biden’s administration did not rule out exploiting the country’s emergency oil reserves, known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

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“It’s a tool that’s being considered,” Granholm said. He also did not rule out imposing restrictions on the export of crude oil.

“It’s a tool we haven’t used, but it’s also a tool,” the energy secretary said.

The export ban was lifted in 2015 by former President Barack Obama. US presidents have sometimes exploited the SPR, releasing crude from reserves in an effort to drive down oil prices.

In 2011, Obama ordered the sale of 30.6 million barrels of oil in response to supply disruptions from Libya. The Obama administration’s decision was coordinated with the nations at the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA issued 30 million barrels at that time.

Political experts told newsweek on Thursday that rising fuel prices raised a risk for Democrats in the 2022 midterm, but could also present an opportunity for Biden if he acts to lower costs for ordinary Americans.

Thomas Gift, founding director of the Center on US Politics, University College London newsweek The hike in petrol prices will be a big issue for voters next year.

“Rising fuel costs certainly won’t do Democrats any favors in 2022,” Gift said. “Few consumer spending has the potential to provoke voters’ anger more than the eye-popping prices at the pump. This is especially true in rural and suburban areas, where citizens are more likely to drive than use public transport. More likely.”

“Higher fuel prices – by increasing the cost of production, transportation and shipping – could also push up general price levels. The Biden administration needs more inflationary pressure on the US economy right now, which experts have already warned will increase the risk of inflation.” Could be worse. In light of the pandemic response bill and other big-ticket federal spending proposals on the agenda,” he went on.

“It should come as no surprise that Biden is not ruling out any options to counter these trends – including tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. will suffice, perhaps more doubtful,” said Gift.

Mark Shanahan is an associate professor and co-editor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading Trump Presidency: From Campaign Trail to World Stage. They told newsweek Rising fuel prices could also be an opportunity for Biden.

Potential Opportunities for Biden

“Mid-term Joe and Jess will be winning on America’s wallet position,” Shanahan said. Voters will understand how well the administration has paved the way for economic recovery through the pandemic. If tapping into US fuel reserves is a tool for Biden to keep dollars in America’s wallet, he should use it. needed.”

“It is now about ensuring some price stability. And stability builds confidence. There is plenty of time to replenish reserves and it could be a win for the government as well if it needs to support the domestic oil industry. is being looked for,” he added.

“Of course, they have their own general balancing act, managing fossil fuel needs with the increasing shift to green energy. But the US runs on gas. And enabling that cooling prices should play politically well as the midterm race. Moving on,” Shanahan said. .