President Joe Biden announced a ban on U.S. imports of Russian energy Tuesday as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.
European allies have made no such decision yet, though the countries were consulted as the U.S. weighed making the move. Biden said the ban applies to “all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy.” (RELATED: ‘Putin Chose This War’: Biden Lays Out New Sanctions Against Russia After Full-Scale Invasion)
“That means Russian oil will no longer be accepted at U.S. ports, and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” Biden, speaking to the nation from the White House, said. “This is a move that has strong bipartisan support in Congress and, I believe, in the country.”
Biden’s announcement coincides with a bipartisan push from lawmakers to ban imports of Russian oil. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted Sunday that Congress was “exploring” legislation to support this move, according to Reuters, suggesting the Biden administration was pressured to announce a ban.
The president described this decision as one that targets “the main artery of Russia’s economy” and declared that the U.S. “will not be part of subsidizing [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war.”
“We’re moving forward, understanding that many of our European allies and partners may not be in a position to join us,” Biden said. “The United States produces far more oil domestically than all of the European countries combined.”
The ban also coincides with record-high gas prices in the U.S., with the national price for one gallon of gas breaking the previous high from 2008, AAA data shows. The price of gas has risen during Biden’s presidency, and the administration first blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and are now pointing to the Russian invasion.
“The decision today is not without cost here at home,” Biden said Tuesday. “Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump. Since Putin began his military build-up at the Ukrainian border, the price of gas in America went up 75 cents, and with this action is going to go up further. I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also blamed oil companies, telling reporters during Monday’s press briefing that “there are 9,000 unused, approved drilling permits.” She also noted the U.S. continues to produce oil at “record numbers.”
“So I would suggest you ask the oil companies why they’re not using those if there’s a desire to drill more,” Psaki said.
Biden, upon announcing the ban, pushed back on suggestions that his policies have held back domestic energy production. The president previously signed an executive order to halt new oil production for public plants.
“It’s simply not true,” the president said before adding that “this crisis is a stark reminder to … become energy independent.”
This latest announcement highlights the ever-changing decisions surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as just last week Psaki pushed back on the notion. During a press briefing March 3, Psaki said the U.S. didn’t “have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy.”
Her comments came one day after President Joe Biden said “nothing is off the table” when pressed about the possibility of banning Russian oil imports.