By Casey Harper, The Center Square
(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden announced a ban on the importation of Russian oil, coal and gas as a response to the nation’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine just as gas prices in the U.S. reached a record high Tuesday.
Biden said Tuesday that the decision was intended to “inflict further pain” on Russian President Vladimir Putin and defund his war in Ukraine. He also acknowledged it would further raise the price of gasoline for Americans.
“Today, I am announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy,” Biden said. “That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports, and the American people will deal another power blow to Putin’s war machine.
“Americans have rallied to support the Ukrainian people and made it clear we will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war,” he added.
Biden said the decision was made in consultation with American allies, though he acknowledged that many European countries “may not be in a position to join us.”
Biden also claimed he has not hindered U.S. domestic oil production, pushing back against a persistent criticism of his energy policies, which limited the Keystone Pipeline and drilling on federal lands.
“Good news. After sending Putin millions for oil, Biden has been shamed into doing the right thing,” U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in response to Biden’s announcement. “Now, Biden needs to reverse his ban on drilling leases to reduce the pain Americans feel at the pump.”
The Russian government warned against this kind of ban earlier this week.
“It is absolutely clear that a rejection of Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market,” said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak in an address on state television Monday. “The surge in prices would be unpredictable. It would be $300 per barrel if not more.”
Gas prices have hit record highs. According to AAA, the average national gas price is $4.17 per gallon, the highest ever. That price is a major increase from just one year ago, when the average price was $2.77 per gallon.
Amid these price increases, Republicans have hammered the Biden administration for its energy policies with many calling on the president to replace Russia’s oil supply with a surge in U.S. oil production.
“Democrats will try to blame historic gas prices on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the facts show otherwise,” said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “On Day 1, Biden halted the Keystone Pipeline and issued a moratorium on new oil and gas permits on federal lands. Then he gave the green light on a pipeline for Putin.”
A Rasmussen poll released Monday found that 70% of those surveyed say the U.S. government should encourage domestic production to make the nation less reliant on foreign sources of energy.
“With gas prices soaring, energy policy is likely to be a major issue in the midterm election campaign, and voters strongly favor a policy of promoting domestic petroleum production,” Rasmussen said. “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 70% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the U.S. government should encourage increased oil and gas production to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of oil and gas. Only 18% oppose a policy of encouraging U.S. energy independence, while 12% are not sure.”
The Center Square is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on state- and local-level government and economic reporting.