Why Rep. Troy Carter voted against banning oil reserve sales to China

A majority of Democrats in the U.S. House backed a Republican bill last week to prohibit sales from America’s emergency backup oil supply to Chinese companies. Among the 97 no votes in the minority party was Rep. Troy Carter of New Orleans. 

“Quite frankly, this legislation was performance art,” Carter said in an email response to the Illuminator.

President Joe Biden has tapped into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) multiple times to tamp down surging fuel prices for motorists. A state-owned company from China was among the buyers when the spigot was opened in April.

Although the Chinese purchase accounted for just 2% of the country’s oil purchases from the United States, 331 lawmakers were adamant in putting restrictions in place for future SPR sales.     

“When you sell oil from the SPR you’re selling oil into the market,” Carter said. “Who the ultimate buyer is doesn’t particularly matter because all it’s doing is adding to the global supply of oil. I am not for limiting the President’s ability to have all the tools any President might need to manage world crises.”

A 50 million-barrel release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in November was the largest in history, accounting for 8% of its total volume. In December, Biden authorized the federal government to buy oil from the private sector to replenish its stock.

The U.S. has exported nearly 420,000 barrels of oil and petroleum products to China since Biden took office in January 2021 through October 2022, according to Energy Information Administration data. The total from the first two full years of the Trump administration reached nearly 300,000 barrels, and more than 353,000 barrels were exported to China from 2019 through 2020.


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