House Republicans Question Energy Secretary Granholm’s Communication with Chinese Official Before SPR Release

House Republicans, led by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, are raising concerns about Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s private conversations with a Chinese government official prior to the Biden administration’s decision to tap emergency oil reserves. Internal Department of Energy (DOE) calendars reveal that Granholm had private calls with Zhang Jianhua, Chairman of China National Energy Administration, on November 19 and November 21, 2021. Shortly after these conversations, on November 23, 2021, the White House announced the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

The Republicans are questioning Granholm’s consultations with a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party in relation to the oil release decision. They are also highlighting concerns about the DOE’s management of the SPR, which they believe has left the country vulnerable to energy supply disruptions and given leverage to adversaries who may use energy as a geopolitical weapon.

Criticism from Republicans towards the Biden administration’s SPR policy has been ongoing. They argue that it has depleted the emergency oil stock while potentially benefiting countries that have strengthened their reserves. The DOE claims that Granholm only had one conversation with Zhang Jianhua, a 30-minute call the day prior to the White House announcement. However, the calendars indicate two calls, raising questions about the transparency of these interactions.

The SPR releases by the Biden administration have led to higher gasoline prices, reaching a record high in June 2022. Additionally, at least 2 million barrels of oil from the SPR were sold to Unipec, an affiliate of China Petrochemical Corp, raising concerns about China’s control over significant oil reserves at the expense of American taxpayers and energy security.

House Republicans stress that China poses economic, security, and geopolitical threats to the United States and is one of the world’s top polluters. They accuse the Biden administration of prioritizing China’s national security over American energy security and national interests.

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