EXCLUSIVE:
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm had multiple conversations with China’s top energy official before the Biden administration announced its plan to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in 2021 to address high gas prices.

Internal Energy Department calendars obtained by Americans for Public Trust (APT) and shared with Fox News Digital revealed that Granholm had undisclosed talks with China National Energy Administration Chairman Zhang Jianhua. It is likely that the Biden administration discussed its plans to release oil from the SPR with China prior to the public announcement.

According to the calendars, Granholm had one-on-one conversations with Jianhua, a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party, on November 19 and November 21, 2021. On November 23, 2021, the White House announced the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the SPR, the largest release in U.S. history at that time.

APT Executive Director Caitlin Sutherland told Fox News Digital, “Secretary Granholm’s multiple closed-door meetings with a CCP-connected energy official raise serious questions about the level of Chinese influence on the Biden administration’s energy agenda. The public deserves to know the extent to which Chinese officials are attempting to infiltrate U.S. energy policy and security.”

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm at the White House

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks about the Biden administration’s decision to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve during a press briefing at the White House on Nov. 23, 2021. 
((Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images))

The Department of Energy (DOE) stated that the meeting was part of its broader effort to combat climate change but did not disclose the details of the discussion.

“Solving the climate crisis means engaging with competitors and allies in clear and substantive discussions — especially among the nations emitting the most carbon pollution into the atmosphere,” said a DOE spokesperson. “We must all address the transnational challenge of climate change to our planet.”

The White House announced in November 2021 that it would release oil from the U.S. reserves in coordination with other major energy-consuming nations, including China. President Biden mentioned that China “may do more as well,” while Granholm stated that China “will make its own announcement.”

Chinese Minister of Energy Zhang Jianhua and European Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete shake hands at a EU-China summit in Brussels on April 9, 2019.

Chinese Minister of Energy Zhang Jianhua and European Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete shake hands at an EU-China summit in Brussels on April 9, 2019.
(STEPHANIE LECOCQ/AFP via Getty Images)

Republican leaders have raised concerns about China increasing its oil reserves while the U.S. released oil from the SPR, arguing that it weakens national security and strengthens foreign adversaries’ geopolitical leverage.

“China ramped up its purchases of crude oil from Russia and the United States to boost its own reserves, even as oil prices surged and President Biden called for a coordinated release,” wrote House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and former GOP Rep. Fred Upton to Granholm in a letter last year. “As a result, China may now control the world’s largest stockpile of oil, with total crude inventories estimated at 950 million barrels.”

The White House and Department of Energy have faced criticism for allowing sales from the SPR to go to Chinese state-run energy companies. In response, the White House argued that it is legally obligated to sell SPR oil to the highest bidder.

President Joe Biden

Under President Biden, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has fallen to 346.8 million barrels of oil, its lowest level since August 1983, according to federal data.

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