Diverse coalition of Sens. Fetterman, Cotton, Brown, and Ernst look to ban sale of Strategic Petroleum Reserve stock to “foreign adversaries”

21 March 2024- U.S. Senators John Fetterman (D-PA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the Banning Oil Exports to Foreign Adversaries Act, which would prohibit the export or sale of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to foreign adversaries. Specifically, the bill will ban sales to China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, and Cuba, as well as any entity owned, controlled, or influenced by the Chinese Communist Party. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also joined as original cosponsors.

Last July, Senators Fetterman and Ernst led a bipartisan effort to get an amendment similar to this new bill included in the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment overwhelmingly agreed to by the Senate in an 85-14 vote but was ultimately stripped from the final bill.

“Our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is meant to protect the energy security of America and our allies,” said Senator Fetterman. “Our adversaries should not be able to purchase oil from our SPR — that’s just commonsense. We must prioritize our national security. This is a good bill that has overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers. I’m proud to lead it with Senator Ernst.”

“Energy security is national security, which is why it is essential to safeguard our strategic supply of oil from benefitting our enemies,” said Senator Ernst. “This bipartisan bill will ensure America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve does not fall into the hands of those trying to harm us and ensure CCP-controlled businesses are not making money by stockpiling taxpayer-subsidized oil. We cannot put Americans last when our adversaries are seeking any opportunity to gain a foothold over us.”

“We can’t allow oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to fuel China’s state sponsored industries. The Chinese Communist Party uses that energy to cheat and undermine Ohio production and Ohio jobs,” said Senator Brown. “Blocking China and other adversaries from accessing our critical energy reserves will protect our national security.”

“We should not aid our adversaries by letting them drain America’s strategic oil reserves. This legislation will restore the integrity of our oil reserves and protect America’s economic and national security,” said Senator Cotton.

A similar bill, which was introduced by Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Representative Don Bacon (R-NE), passed the U.S. House as an amendment to the Lower Energy Costs Act in March 2023.

The SPR, which was established by Congress in 1975, exists to minimize the impacts of oil supply shocks on the United States. Today, as the world’s largest supply of emergency crude oil, it continues to protect and strengthen U.S. national, economic, and energy security. The U.S. Department of Energy manages the SPR and regularly conducts public sales of excess crude oil to the highest bidders through competitive public auction. During both the Biden and Trump Administrations, foreign companies with direct ties to our adversaries have won these auctions, giving anti-democratic regimes access to critical energy reserves.