Biden resists calls to support expansion of oil and gas production to counter Russia | News

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JThe Biden administration this week reiterated its opposition to expanding US fossil fuel production, rejecting Republicans’ argument that supporting increased domestic production would reduce dependence on Russia and make lower gas prices.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has pushed back on calls for the administration to support expanding oil and gas drilling or reverse its cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, as have suggested the Republicans.

Instead, PSAki said on ABC News This weekthe crisis in Russia further underscores the need for President Joe Biden’s plans to increase clean energy production in the United States.

“The Keystone Pipeline was not processing oil through the system,” Psaki said. “It doesn’t solve any problem. It’s a misdiagnosis – or maybe a misdiagnosis of what needs to happen.”

“I would also note that on the oil leases, what this really justifies in President Biden’s eyes is the fact that we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, oil in general…and we need to look for other ways to have energy in our country and in others,” Psaki added.

His remarks came in response to Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who said in the same program that lifting those restrictions would “bring more oil into America every day from Canada than we bring every day from Russia.”

But Cotton is not the only Republican to ask the White House to increase its domestic energy production.

Congressional Republicans and former administration officials have argued that Moscow’s aggression further illustrates the need for the United States to sever its ties with Russia and reduce its dependence on Russia. -the latter third largest exporter of petroleum products to the United States, from November, and the European Union leading natural gas supplier.

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Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida on Thursday, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley lambasted Biden’s decisions in the energy sector, saying his push for clean energy initiatives was strengthening the hand of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“You talk about weakness on Joe Biden’s part,” Hawley said. “He comes to power, and what does he do? He shuts down American energy production and gives the green light to Russian energy production. Is it any wonder that Vladimir Putin feels emboldened to do what he wants ?”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed that assertion. “We did the worst thing: we stopped American production of natural gas and crude oil, giving Vladimir Putin $100 a barrel or $93 a barrel for crude oil produced in Russia,” he said. .

And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in separately, writing that the United States must “take energy independence seriously” in the wake of the Russian invasion.

The Biden administration has toed a tricky line in responding to rising energy prices, crafting sanctions intended to punish Putin but shut out Russia’s energy sector in a bid to limit the pain many American consumers are feeling at home. the pump. “Our set of sanctions that we specifically designed to allow energy payments to continue,” Biden said last week when announcing the measures at the White House.

Gas prices in the United States have been rising for months, hitting a national average of $3.57 a gallon, according to AAA. That’s an increase of about 33% from the same point last year.

The national gas consumer price index has also increased by 40% since January 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statisticsdespite the administration’s decision to release a record 50 million barrels of oil from US strategic reserves in November.

Biden has repeatedly suggested that oil and gas companies are to blame for the high prices and even called for a Federal Trade Commission investigation into the possibility that they are price-gouging.

Last week, he echoed the same theme, saying, “US oil and gas companies shouldn’t — shouldn’t exploit this moment to raise prices to boost profits.”

With backing from the Biden administration, however, the United States has also massively ramped up shipments of liquefied natural gas to European allies in hopes of mitigating damage from Russian disruptions.

LNG producers in the United States have been running at full capacity over the past two months, and export volumes averaged some 11.2 billion cubic feet per day in January, an increase of more than 7.5% over the daily average for the fourth quarter of 2021.

Meanwhile, some Republicans have called on Biden to extend sanctions to Russia’s energy sector to increase pressure on Putin. Last week, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey said he feared the announced measures “would be insufficient to deter Putin from further aggression”.

“The administration intentionally leaves the largest industry in the Russian economy virtually untouched,” Toomey said.

“Sanctions on Russian banks, while welcome, may not insulate Russia’s financial system from international activity. This is why the United States should impose crippling sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas sector,” he said. -he adds.

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When asked on Sunday whether Biden would be open to lifting such restrictions on U.S. production, Psaki objected, saying only that Biden hopes to use “carefully crafted sanctions” that “maximize impact” and consequences. for Putin while “minimizing the impact” on Americans and the rest of the world.

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