By David Larson
Even though gas prices now surpass $5 a gallon in many areas of the country, $4.13 in North Carolina, leaders from both sides of the aisle agree it’s time to cut off Russian oil. But President Joe Biden and Democrats seem more inclined to replace the nation’s Russian oil supply with oil from Venezuela and other regimes, rather than increase domestic production.
Lawmakers are lining up to weigh in.
On Monday, March 7, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., who is also running for U.S. Senate, sponsored H.R. 6919, the Prohibition on Imports of Russian Oil Act.
“Vladimir Putin is an international thug who is bombing innocent civilians,” Budd said in a statement Monday. “We need to immediately restrain Russia’s ability to project power, and that means focusing on their financial and energy sectors. Banning Russian oil imports should also be paired with unleashing America’s energy development and removing the Biden administration’s current restrictions.”
State Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, sent a letter this week to North Carolina’s congressional delegation calling for them to also take steps to ban imports of Russian oil.
“We don’t need to send in American troops to make an effective impact on Russian aggression, but we must do more than removing Russian vodka from store shelves, much more,” Berger wrote in the letter. “We must choke off Putin’s access to cash; cash that is necessary for Putin to fund his aggression. If we are to effectively help Ukraine, we should immediately end purchases of Russian oil.”
As support for a Russian oil ban grew on Capitol Hill, Biden pre-empted a vote in Congress by issuing an executive order banning imports of oil, natural gas, and coal, as well as any financing of the Russian energy industry. But the Biden administration has not offered new ways to help bring down record gas prices. The overall cost to a typical American household for increased fuel prices could reach $2,000 a year, according to Yardeni research.
“The supply shock affecting oil and therefore retail gasoline prices is renewing calls for America to become less dependent upon oil from foreign sources,” said Jon Sanders, senior fellow, Regulatory Studies, and research editor at the John Locke Foundation. “Unfortunately, the Biden administration avoids the sensible, logical conclusion that most people would expect: That we would be more supportive of our own energy providers, the American petroleum industry operated by American workers, our friends, and neighbors. Instead, the Biden administration seems to think it’s good to tell people to suck it up, ditch your cars, buy electric vehicles if you’re wealthy enough, and if you’re too poor, well, you can walk or bike for your country.”
While the White House rejects Russian oil, over the weekend Biden administration officials visited Venezuela to discuss importing oil from the notorious socialist regime, a close ally of Russia.
In response, congressional Republicans unveiled a “No Oil from Terrorists Act” to prevent Biden from seeking to replace the Russian oil with oil from another totalitarian regime, Iran.
“I absolutely support the decision to ban Russian oil imports so we don’t inadvertently help fund Putin’s illegal invasion, but it cannot be an empty gesture to ban oil from one ruthless dictatorship and in turn replace it with oil from another ruthless dictatorship,” said U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in a statement.
Biden’s November decision to release 50 million barrels of oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve is failing to quiet criticism over his cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“One of Joe Biden’s day-one acts as president, and one in which he took great pride, was to cancel permitting for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried 830,000 barrels of heavy crude a day from Alberta, Canada into the U.S.,” Sanders said. “Now he is on a world tour of despotic regimes begging for their oil to replace the 208,000 barrels per day the U.S. had been importing from Russia.”
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson represents N.C.’s 8th Congressional District, where Fort Bragg lies, in Fayetteville. Also a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Hudson released a statement of his own, agreeing that it is time to boost oil production at home again.
“I thank the President for finally taking this step and cutting off up to $75 million a day America was giving Vladimir Putin for oil to finance his war on Ukraine,” Hudson said. “Now, President Biden and House Democrats must reverse their anti-American energy policies and pass our American Energy Independence from Russia Act to boost domestic production. With record-setting gas prices, we must unleash American energy once again, not turn to other adversaries like Iran and Venezuela to ease the pain felt at the pump.”
Removing regulatory barriers in the energy industry would also help bring consumer prices down, according to Sanders.
“The petroleum industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the U.S,” Sanders added. “Repeal of the federal Jones Act would help Alaskan and Gulf State oil producers ship to California and the Northeast as well as New England. A signal from the White House that it is rethinking its strange enmity to domestic production would likely also remove some upward pressure on prices.”