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Strategic Petroleum Reserve facility in Big Hill, Texas

Photo by U.S. Department of Energy

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Donald Trump, the disgraced, former president who is reportedly planning a third campaign, on Tuesday released an exceptionally false statement criticizing President Joe Biden for taking action to combat increasing gas and home heating oil prices.

President Biden Tuesday morning announced he has authorized 50 million barrels of oil to be sold from the U.S. Strategic Oil Reserves, a move that should help lower oil and gas prices that have risen because of OPEC+ policies. Biden is making the move in conjunction with similar moves by five other countries: China, India, Japan, South Korea and the U.K.

"We expect the industry to be passing through these savings to consumers as quickly as possible," a White House official said, as The Wall Street Journal reports.

"The president stands ready to take additional action, if needed, and is prepared to use his full authorities working in coordination with the rest of the world to maintain adequate supply as we exit the pandemic," the White House added.

Trump, in a statement released to the press, outright lied about Biden's move, and about his own performance and that of other U.S. Presidents.

"For decades our Country's very important Strategic Oil Reserves were low or virtually empty in that no President wanted to pay the price of filling them up. I filled them up three years ago, right to the top, when oil prices were very low. Those reserves are meant to be used for serious emergencies, like war, and nothing else," Trump falsely claimed.

As The New York Times' Peter Baker notes, the Strategic Oil Reserves (technically the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,) were far from empty when Trump took office, but they were far less full when he left:

That's not the only lie Trump told.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is authorized to hold up to 714 million barrels (in 2009 it was 727 million barrels), so they were nearly full when Trump took office. He also exposed his ignorance about how the federal government "buys" the oil. The oil is effectively traded to the government as payment (royalties) for drilling leases so presidents not wanting to "pay the price of filling them up" is false as well.

Here's a graph from the U.S. government showing how many barrels of oil are in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves, starting in 1980. At no time were they "low or virtually empty," not ever. The chart is highlighted to indicate the day Trump was sworn in to office:

The Reserves have been tapped about 20 times since they were first created in 1975, including to reduce the deficit in 1996 and 1997, in 2011 during the Arab Spring, and as loans to oil companies.

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