Reported by THOMAS CATENACCI, ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT REPORTER | March 01, 2022
Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin doubled down on his call for President Joe Biden to ban all Russian crude oil imports on Tuesday.
“It makes no sense at all for the United States to be buying millions of barrels of Russian oil and other petroleum products while Russia attacks the free and sovereign nation of Ukraine,” the West Virginia senator tweeted on Tuesday. “That’s why I’m calling on (President Joe Biden) to immediately stop all imports from Russia.”
Russia provided more oil to the U.S. than any other country except Canada last year, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed. In total, the U.S. imported nearly 3 billion barrels of oil, or roughly 670,000 barrels per day, from Russia in 2021. Manchin, who is the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee chairman, said the dependence on Russia for crude oil presents a threat to U.S. national security. He also echoed fossil fuel industry group in calling for greater domestic production of oil and gas. (RELATED: Biden, Allies Again Tap Emergency Crude Oil Stockpiles Amid Ukraine Crisis)
“The entire world is watching as Vladimir Putin uses energy as a weapon in an attempt to extort and coerce our European allies,” Manchin said in a statement Monday. “While Americans decry what is happening in Ukraine, the United States continues to allow the import of more than half a million barrels per day of crude oil and other petroleum products from Russia during this time of war.’
“This makes no sense at all and represents a clear and present danger to our nation’s energy security,” he said. “If there was ever a time to be energy independent, it is now.”
However, the White House has stopped short of sanctioning Russia’s key oil and gas sector, which funds about 40% of the nation’s federal budget. The administration said such sanctions would harm European and American consumers.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he would order a ban on Russian oil imports on Monday, Bloomberg reported. But Canada imports a tiny fraction of its oil needs from Russia.
“Sanctioning energy would affect Russia’s income stream — certainly that would be a reason to do it — but it would also have extreme consequences on the world energy markets, particularly for our Allies in Europe,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.
When asked about Canada’s decision, Psaki said that “all options remain on the table.”
White House energy adviser Amos Hochstein said that banning oil imports from Russia would boost prices for Americans while making Russian state producers richer as well, in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday.