Biden Bans Russian Oil Imports in Effort to Punish Putin, Heads to TX but 'Won’t Meet with Energy Producers'
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President Joe Biden announced his decision to ban all Russian oil imports Tuesday in a move that's designed to further economically punish Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine.
"Today I'm announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia's economy. We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy," Biden said in a nationally televised address from the White House.
"That means that all Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin's war machine," Biden announced. "This is a move that has strong bipartisan support in Congress and I believe in the country."
“We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war,” Biden said, calling the new action a “powerful blow” against Russia's ability to fund the ongoing offensive.
He warned that Americans will see rising prices, saying, “Defending freedom is going to cost. It's going to cost us as well in the United States."
Biden said the U.S. was acting in close consultation with European allies, who are more dependent on Russian energy supplies. The European Union this week will commit to phasing out its reliance on Russia for energy needs as soon as possible, but filling the void without crippling EU economies will likely take some time.
Biden took no questions from reporters following his address.
The President's move follows pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to U.S. and Western officials to cut off the imports, which had been a glaring omission in the sanctions put in place to punish Russia for its unjustified invasion.
Energy exports have kept a steady stream of cash flowing to Russia despite otherwise severe restrictions on its financial sector.
Russia gets much of its income from oil and gas exports, and the price of oil has soared in the past two years since Biden took over the White House and began blocking domestic oil efforts like the Keystone XL Pipeline. As CBN News has reported, the U.S. shifted to import more Russian oil as a result, and some have argued the U.S. has essentially been funding Putin's invasion by buying Russia's oil.
Though Russian oil makes up only a small part of U.S. imports, Biden has said he was reluctant to ban it, cutting into supplies here and pushing gasoline prices higher.
The U.S. imported 245 million barrels of oil from Russia last year — about 8% of all U.S. oil imports — up from 198 million barrels in 2020. That's less than the U.S. gets from Canada or Mexico but more than it imported last year from Saudi Arabia.
Biden has the support of Congress after a bipartisan group of committee chairmen just reached an agreement on a bill that would ban Russian oil imports.
The new oil sanctions are designed to hurt the Russian economy, but unless Biden immediately reopens the door to new U.S. oil production or other sources of oil, U.S. gas prices could shoot even higher.
U.S. gas prices have already hit a record high as the war rages in Ukraine, and they're expected to go higher.
The national average is now $4.17 a gallon. In California, drivers are paying more than 5 dollars a gallon thanks to the state's higher gas taxes.
The national average rose by 10 cents per gallon in one day, and it’s up 55 cents since last week, according to AAA data. The previous high was set 13 years ago when the national average price hit $4.10 per gallon.
A barrel of U.S. crude rose 7.5% to $128.38 in Tuesday morning trading.
The White House said Biden was traveling to Fort Worth, Texas, Tuesday to meet with veterans and to talk about expanding access to health care and benefits for veterans affected by exposure to harmful substances, toxins, and other environmental hazards.
U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) noted the president's visit to his state -- the top producer of crude oil in the country.
He tweeted Tuesday, "Joe Biden is in Texas today but won’t meet with energy producers to find out what’s needed to increase production, reduce prices, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Instead, this White House would rather meet with Venezuela and Iran."
Joe Biden is in Texas today but won’t meet with energy producers to find out what’s needed to increase production, reduce prices, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) March 8, 2022
Instead, this White House would rather meet with Venezuela and Iran.
It's not just gas and oil prices that are affected by the fighting in Ukraine. That country exports about 25 percent of the world's wheat.
The war's impact on production and shipping could double global wheat prices. The U.N. World Food Program warns that could have a catastrophic impact on the world's poorest nations.
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