President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the United States is banning the import of all Russian energy, including oil and gas. Watch:
“Today I’m announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy,” Biden said. “We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy. That means Russian oil no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine.”
“This is a move that has strong bipartisan support in the Congress and, I believe, in the country,” Biden added. “Americans have rallied to support the Ukrainian people and made it clear we will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.”
“We made this decision in close consultation with our allies and our partners around the world, particularly in Europe, because a united response to Putin’s aggression has been my overriding focus, to keep all NATO and all of the E.U. and our allies totally united,” he continued.
“We’re moving forward with this ban understanding that many of our European allies and partners may not be in a position to join us,” Biden went on. “The United States produces far more oil domestically than all of European countries combined. In fact we are a net exporter of energy, so we can take this step.”
The issue is that the Biden administration, despite its denials, is limiting U.S. oil and gas production by constricting leases, and has shut down the Keystone XL pipeline that facilitates gas transit from Canada.
BIDEN: "It's simply not true that my administration or policies are holding back domestic energy production" pic.twitter.com/i2Aqfz7Cxw
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 8, 2022
“Look, let me be clear about two other points,” Biden said. “First, it’s simply not true that my administration or policies are holding back domestic energy production. That’s simply not true. Even amid the pandemic, companies in the United States pump more oil during my first year in office than they did during my predecessor’s first year. We’re approaching a record levels of oil and gas production in the United States and we’re on track to set a record of world production next year.”
This is not true. As reported earlier, the United States has been on track to be a net oil importer in 2022, after becoming a net exporter under the Trump administration in September 2019 for the first time since 1973.
“Higher net crude oil imports are set to make the United States a net petroleum importer this year again, as in 2021, after a historic shift of being a net petroleum exporter in 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said,” as reported by Oil Price.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) argued on Fox News that the U.S. should increase domestic oil and gas production instead of turning to ‘enemies’ to make up the energy shortfall.
“Look, these are rational actors,” Senator Lee said. “They are not tapping those because it’s not profitable or hasn’t been and he can say all he wants, you know, that there are oil leases that are still producing but not producing enough.”
“The fact is on day one he canceled all oil and gas leasing on federal lands,” Lee said. “He took Keystone XL pipeline off the table. He has banned oil and gas development in places like ANWR.”
“These are things that we need to be developing and there is a regulatory environment that is overtly hostile toward fossil fuels,” Lee added. “We want to control inflation. President Biden wants to control Americans. He’s got something very wrong there.”
“We need to open up opportunities and that means producing more energy at home,” he added..” We can produce energy here, oil and gas less expensively, and in a more environmentally responsible fashion than they can do almost anywhere in the world. But instead of doing these things, he’s going to our enemies, hat in hand, asking them to produce more oil, that’s wrong.”
As reported earlier, the United States is effectively reimplimenting a Cold War-era style ban on Russian oil and gas imports, as well as ending trade relations with the Eurasian country.
“A bipartisan group of lawmakers said on Monday that they would move forward with legislation that would ban imports of Russian energy into the United States and suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus in response to the invasion of Ukraine,” the New York Times reported.
“The legislation is aimed at inflicting further financial pain on Russia and Belarus, which has been aiding the conflict, by cutting off Russia’s oil exports into the United States and giving President Biden the ability to increase tariffs on products from both countries,” the report added.
“The bipartisan agreement to cut off oil imports adds to growing pressure on Mr. Biden to shut the spigot,” the report continued. “Although the United States imports just 7 percent of its oil from Russia, the administration has so far avoided banning imports, in part because of worries that it would further accelerate already-high gas prices. Russia and Belarus are minor trading partners of the United States, though they supply some materials that are crucial for certain industries, including platinum, iron and fertilizer.”
“On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States was considering a ban on Russian oil imports, sending oil prices higher,” the Times added.
“Leading lawmakers on trade issues reached a deal Monday on legislation that would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the US and suspend normal trade relations with Moscow, amid indications the administration is willing to go along,” the Daily Mail noted.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was pressed on the matter on Monday, noting that a bill has not yet been sent over from Congress.
“The president has not made a decision at this point in time. So that’s where we stand. Is a bill on its way over here that’s passed Congress? I don’t think so,” she snapped.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) discussed the ramifications of the forthcoming oil and gas ban on U.S.-Russia trade relations on Fox News with host Maria Bartiromo.
The Biden administration is also weighing overtures to foreign petrodictatorships to import more oil, amid executive policies against the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline to import from Canada, as well as limitations on federal oil and gas leases.
“President Biden’s advisers are discussing a possible visit to Saudi Arabia this spring to help repair relations and convince the Kingdom to pump more oil,” Axios reported.
Axios also noted that “Biden officials are in Venezuela this weekend to meet with the government of President Nicolás Maduro… Some Republicans and Democrats in Washington suggest Venezuela’s oil could replace Russia’s, according to the New York Times.”
The Biden administration is thus preparing to make up the shortfall that would come from a halt on Russian energy imports. The administration has also released 30 million barrels from the strategic oil reserve — but such reserves would last a mere matter of days.
The Biden administration’s tough talk on Russia, as well as its simultaneous aid to Ukraine, has painted it into a corner. Backing Democratic Congress members up for election on cutting off Russian energy imports is thus all-but-guaranteed. The skyrocketing oil and gas prices also puts more pressure on the Democratic Party ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
“The national average price for a gallon of gasoline has topped $4 in the US for the first time since 2008,” the New York Post reported. The Russian oil and gas ban will only drive the prices higher in the absense of an increase in domestic production.
On Monday, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg addressed surging gas prices in the United States by telling Americans they should buy an electric car.
Pete Buttigieg: Upset with near-record gas prices? Too bad. Buy an electric vehicle.
(The average cost of an electric vehicle is over $55,000) pic.twitter.com/VjBvhx4RGd
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 7, 2022
Buttigieg’s solution is unlikely to be of much use to families on an increasingly tight budget due to rising gas prices and soaring inflation, since the average price of an electric car is over $56,000.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.