GOP wants to end Russian oil imports to the United States and increase production
OKLAHOMA CITY – Republican lawmakers across the United States are criticizing President Joe Biden for his energy policy and urging his administration to do more to increase domestic production to help wean the nation and its allies off Russian oil.
Sanctions imposed on Russia for its war with Ukraine so far do not include the country’s oil and gas exports, a step that would seriously damage Russia’s ability to generate revenue.
Republican Governor of Oklahoma Kevin Stitt and GOP U.S. Senator from Ohio Rob Portman urged Biden this week to take action to stop Russian oil imports to the United States, where oil and gas drilling actually increased in Biden’s first year in office.
“Recent events in Ukraine are another example of why we should be selling energy to our friends and not buying it from our enemies,” Stitt wrote to Biden.
A similar letter urging Biden to immediately institute an embargo on all Russian energy exports was sent to the president by US Representatives Tom Cole of Oklahoma and US Sens Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall of Kansas.
The United States gets 5-10% of its crude oil and refined products from Russia, a fairly small share that it could probably replace with other sources if Russian supplies were cut off, said Jacques Rousseau, director CEO of Clearview Energy Partners.
“It’s not as important for the United States as it is for the world, because there are other countries that are much more dependent on Russian oil,” he said.
The United States does not import gas from Russia, but Europe depends on natural gas from Russia for a third of its supply.
Portman said it didn’t make sense to import Russian oil after the Biden administration shut down the Keystone XL pipeline as part of its broader efforts to address climate change and its worsening effects. The pipeline would have carried 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to US refineries along the Gulf Coast.
“So here we are cutting off our own North American energy supply while helping Russia by buying its oil,” Portman said.
In the Republican response to Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds referenced the United States’ desire to increase production and gain energy independence.
Biden defended his decision to preserve access to Russian energy in order to “limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump.” But when asked on Wednesday whether he would consider banning Russian oil imports, Biden replied, “Nothing is on the table.”
Oil prices have soared this week in response to Russia’s escalating war on Ukraine, increasing pressure on persistently high inflation across the globe. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $110 a barrel on Wednesday, the biggest one-day jump since May 2020 and the highest price since 2014. Brent crude, the international standard, jumped 7.1% to 104 $.97.
The crisis in Ukraine prompted a special meeting on Tuesday of the International Energy Agency’s board of directors, which resulted in the 31 member countries agreeing to release 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves – including half from the United States – “to send a strong message to oil markets” that supplies will not run out.
Despite Republican criticism, oil and gas drilling in the United States has actually increased since Biden took office, largely due to increased demand for fuel as the economy recovers from pandemic restrictions.
Natural gas production rose 2% in 2021, Biden’s first year in office, from the year before when Republican Donald Trump was in office. Liquefied natural gas exports rose 42% in the first six months of 2021, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the US Energy Information Administration. At the end of January this year, oil production was up slightly from the same period a year ago.
The reasons vary. Companies reduced their oil and gas drilling at the start of the pandemic, and many have not returned to their pre-pandemic drilling levels despite higher demand. This is partly because investors have pressured state-owned companies to focus more on transitioning to renewable or cleaner energy sources. Companies looking to increase oil and gas drilling are struggling to find rigs, trucks and workers.
Nonetheless, Republicans are calling for an expansion of oil and gas production as a security concern for the United States and its allies.
On Monday, 25 state attorneys general, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, wrote a letter opposing the Biden administration’s proposed rule to ban the transportation of liquefied natural gas by rail in the states. -United. The letter also criticized Biden’s order to suspend new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters.
Landry added that the freeze on new rental and drilling licenses on federal lands and in the Gulf of Mexico is depriving Louisiana and other states, primarily in the West, of revenue from rental payments, royalties and rents. About a quarter of US oil production and about 10% of its natural gas production comes from federal lands.
In New Mexico and its part of the sprawling Permian Basin oilfield that has sustained US energy production for the past decade, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is heightening impatience with federal delays in new oil drilling. and gas on federal lands.
Sen. Gay Kernan, a New Mexico state Republican and daughter of an oil producer, said the Biden administration’s policies are restricting new oilfield investments, even though current production is robust.
“It’s just such a bad time when Europe needs our energy,” she said. “We could supply energy to Europe on a massive scale, but you have to have the infrastructure in place and you have to be able to produce natural gas.”
But our ability to export liquefied natural gas to Europe is limited, as our export facilities are already operating at full capacity.
New Mexico is a major source of natural gas and overtook North Dakota last year as the second largest oil producer in the United States, behind Texas.
This image is also more complicated. Biden suspended new oil and gas leases on federal lands when he took office, but a judge blocked that decision and drilling on public lands actually accelerated. And months before Biden was sworn in, oil and gas producers were stockpiling permits to drill on federal lands in anticipation of policies favoring renewable energy.
In Utah, where more than half of the land is federally owned, Republican State Senate Speaker Stuart Adams said on Twitter that the state should be able to share its “ample natural gas” with allies. the United States.
“We cannot rely on Russia for energy when we can produce it ourselves,” he added.
Bussewitz reported from New York. Associated Press writers Morgan Lee in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Colleen Long in Washington, DC; Lindsay Whitehurst and Samuel Metz in Salt Lake City; and Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.
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