"We May Have To Supply Europe": Lawmakers Pressure Biden To Halt Russian Oil Imports, Boost Production

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Mar 01, 2022 - 10:30 PM

US lawmakers across the aisle are pressuring President Biden to halt US imports of Russian oil and gas - with Republicans (and moderate Democrat Joe Manchin) pushing for an expansion of domestic production, and Democrats pitching it as a perfect opportunity to accelerate investments into renewable energy.

The former of course could be accomplished by reopening the Keystone pipeline and uncapping closed shale projects, while the latter would require trillions in taxpayer dollars to maybe accomplish within the next decade.

Meanwhile, America purchased over 600,000 barrels per day of Russian crude last year - up 24% from a year prior under the Trump administration, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Last week imports from Russia hit an average of 106,000 bbl/day.

Solutions aside, the move - which follows a push by senior Democrats to expel Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging service - would undoubtedly send gasoline prices surging in the US beyond current "I did that" levels, as the highest inflation in four decades evaporates Americans' disposable income.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has argued that Biden has failed to "hit Putin where it hurts most."

But, as Bloomberg points out, "as with Biden’s about-face on SWIFT, the pressure campaign from the president’s own party -- particularly as Biden prepares for his first State of the Union address Tuesday night -- may prove to be most consequential."

Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday that would ban all imports of Russian crude oil and petroleum products into the United States. Meanwhile, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin is leading a push to expand domestic drilling to boost exports to NATO allies.

Manchin, who called the U.S. reliance on Russian energy “ridiculous,” is often an outlier within his own party but he’s not the only Democrat interested in shifting the Biden administration’s policy toward oil and gas. -Bloomberg

Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said he's now open to ideas that he wouldn't have considered before Putin's invasion - including boosting domestic energy production, while Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) echoed that sentiment.

Bob Casey (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

"The fact is we’ve got a different problem now, and that is we may have to supply Europe," said Tester.

#2 Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, said in an interview that "We’re observing two wars at this time."

"A red hot war in Ukraine, where the people are showing extraordinary courage to bring back their freedom from this invasion by Putin and a war against climate change, which is going to be as devastating to the world as any hot war on a military basis."

On Tuesday, a Biden official signaled a willingness to mitigate the potential loss of Russian oil imports.

"We’ve had discussions with OPEC+ about increasing their production. And there’s also ongoing discussions about a coordinated release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to produce and allow more barrels of oil to come onto the market," National Economic Council deputy director Bharat Ramamurti told Bloomberg TV.

Republicans, meanwhile, have been pushing the Biden administration to boost domestic oil and gas production for more than a year, and are now asking for regulatory relief.

According to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), "If there’s anything that can change their policy, it might be war."

Of course - there is another solution pointed out by the NYT's Blake Hounshell: