(Bloomberg) -- Top Republicans are warning the Biden administration against tapping into the nation’s strategic oil reserve to bring down gasoline prices with five months to go before the presidential election. 

The message, sent in a letter Wednesday to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, comes as Biden administration officials have hinted they may be willing to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to tamp down gasoline prices amid forecasts for a spike this summer. 

The average price of gasoline in the US has surged 15% this year — and the summer driving season is only beginning.

“It is clear President Biden, and the DOE will continue to use the SPR as a political tool to offset high gas prices with no regard to the implications on the energy and national security of the United States,” the letter said. It was signed by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Senator John Barrasso, the top Republicans on the respective House and Senate energy committees. 

The letter comes amid lingering anger among Republicans about the administration’s move to release a record 180 million barrels from the reserve in 2022, which the GOP said was designed to lower gasoline prices before the midterm elections. The release contributed to a total sale of 290 million barrels from the reserve, bringing it to its lowest level since the 1980s. 

An Energy Department spokeswoman referred to remarks made by Granholm during congressional testimony last week, in which she reiterated the 2022 release was needed to respond to a disruption in global supply created after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Biden administration has also said that a portion of the other sales were mandated by Congress as a means to pay for unrelated legislation. 

The Energy Department has been slowly refilling the more than 700 million-barrel-strong cache, which was created in the wake of the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s. It currently holds about 370 million barrels, according to government data.

(Updates with Energy Department response in sixth paragraph.)

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