President Joe Biden announced Tuesday the U.S. will ban all Russian oil and gas imports, hoping to inflict more damage to Russia’s economy in response to its unrelenting attack on Ukraine. But the president acknowledged the move will mean even higher costs for Americans, particularly at the gas pump.
The action follows pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to U.S. and Western officials to cut off the imports, which had been a noticeable omission in the massive sanctions put in place on Russia over the invasion. Energy exports have kept a steady stream of cash flowing to Russia despite otherwise severe restrictions on its financial sector.
“We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war,” Biden declared, calling the new action a “powerful blow” against Russia’s ability to fund the ongoing offensive.
With that offensive now in its 12th day, some in Oklahoma’s congressional delegation say the embargo was long overdue.
“While I am encouraged that the president announced the U.S. will finally stop buying Russian oil and energy products,” said Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK4) in a statement, “this key sanction should have happened much sooner.”
Last week, Cole joined Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) in sending a letter to President Biden, urging him to immediately institute such a ban while also encouraging America’s western allies to do the same.
The European Union, which is far more dependent on Russian oil than the U.S. is not expected to follow suit.
While the pandemic and a much tighter flow of capital from investors have slowed U,S. oil and gas production in recent years, Republicans tend to blame Biden and his energy policies for the fact that America has, on average, been importing about 672,000 barrels of oil and refined petroleum products daily from Russia.
“Today would be a great day to halt President Biden's anti-American energy policies, unleash American energy production, and restore American energy independence,” tweeted Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK5) today.
“Biden’s embargo on Russian oil must be partnered with an immediate reversal of his anti-American energy policies,” said Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK1). “Oklahoma companies are ready and willing to provide oil and gas to the American people, but Biden handcuffed them on Day 1 of his presidency."
Tuesday, President Biden insisted such assertions are false, that his administration and its policies are not holding back domestic energy production.
"Even amid the pandemic, companies in the United States pumped more oil during my first year in office than they did in my predecessor's first year," said the president. "In the United States, 90 percent of onshore oil production takes place on land that isn't owned by the federal government. And of the remaining 10 percent that occurs on federal land, the oil and gas industry has millions of acres leased. They have 9000 permits to drill now. They could be drilling right now."