Two weeks ago, President Joe Biden ordered the release of 1 million barrels of oil per day from the country’s petroleum stockpile for the next six months. The United States’ Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a collection of underground salt caverns, was created following the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, which was when the U.S. and other Western countries faced substantial petroleum shortages, fueling elevated oil prices. The oil crisis arose after Arab oil producers cut off exports to protest U.S. military support for Israel in its 1973 war with Egypt and Syria.
The petroleum reserve was created to provide the American people with a supply that can be used in case of an emergency. The reserve, which is located in Texas and Louisiana, holds up to more than 700 million barrels of oil, but according to the U.S. Energy Department only holds 560 million barrels presently. This is the third time the Biden-Harris administration has tapped the reserve, but it’s not the first time it’s been touched within U.S. history.