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Biden Announces Ban on Russian Oil but Does Not Change Course on Increasing Domestic Production

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President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the United States would be banning the importation of Russian oil but offered no change in his domestic energy policies to make up the difference.

CNBC reported that the price of a barrel of oil shot up to $130 overnight, a 13-year high, while the average price of a gallon of gasoline hit $4.17 — the highest in U.S. history.

Russian oil imports reached record levels under Biden in spring 2021 and remained at over 12.5 million barrels in December.

Meanwhile imports from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries overall reached nearly 33 million barrels that same month (a little over a million barrels per day), up from 18.7 million barrels in Jan. 2021, the month former President Donald Trump left office.

Despite these facts, Biden is holding fast to the policies that curtailed the domestic oil production highs seen during the Trump administration.

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In December 2019 prior to the pandemic, U.S. production topped out at 12.9 million barrels a day while in December 2021 it was 11.6 million barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Biden blamed the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the pain Americans are feeling at the pump, though gas prices have been going up since he took office.

The average price stood at approximately $3.50 per gallon before the war started, over a dollar more than when Biden became president, according to the EIA.

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“I’m going to do everything I can to minimize [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s price hike here at home,” Biden said Tuesday.

The president mentioned his plan to release 30 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The U.S. consumes between 18-20 million barrels a day, so the release will only provide less than two days’ supply.

“We’re also going to keep working with every tool at our disposal to protect American families and businesses,” Biden said.

He dismissed the charge that his administration’s policies are holding back domestic energy production.

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“We’re approaching a record levels of oil and gas production in the United States, and we’re on track to set a record oil production next year,” Biden said.

Fox Business Network host David Asman refuted the president’s claim, noting that domestic production is nearly 1.5 million barrels per day less than under Trump.

In the early days of Biden’s presidency, he signed executive orders under the auspices of addressing climate change, which included suspending oil and gas exploration leasing on federal lands and reinstating and Obama-era carbon dioxide emission federal fee to oil drilling operations that had been lowered significantly under Trump.

Additionally, the Biden administration shut down oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and canceled the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.

In January, the Department of the Interior said it would be scrapping a Trump administration decision to expand leasing and development in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, which is separate from ANWR, Reuters reported.

“This decision reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s priority of reviewing existing oil and gas programs to ensure balance on America’s public lands and waters to benefit current and future generations,” the Department of the Interior said.

Trump sought to reverse a trend that saw production fall to a 43-year low in the state in 2020.

Additionally, last month, the Biden administration announced it would be delaying decisions on new oil and gas leases and permits on federal lands overall after a judge ruled officials had no constitutional authority to impose higher climate fees on drilling without congressional approval, CNBC reported.

Trump predicted in November 2020, just prior to the general election, that gas would reach $7 per gallon and higher under Biden, due to the green policies the Democrat planned to implement, which they have in California this week.

And Trump said Biden would then tell Americans to get rid of their gas-powered cars.

Biden did not say Tuesday there would be any changes to his polices that are clearly impacting domestic oil production and gasoline prices.

Rather, he said the U.S. should focus on speeding its transition to electric vehicles.

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