Chris Lange, FISM News
President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced an immediate ban on Russian energy imports into the U.S., along with a warning that Americans can expect another surge in gas prices that are already at a record-breaking high.
“We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas energy,” Biden announced at the White House yesterday. “That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable in U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine.”
Under the ban, U.S. buyers will have 45 days to transition out of existing contracts, according to a senior administration official who spoke with reporters. The measure also bars direct and indirect U.S. investment in Russia’s energy sector.
Although the White House says it has been working closely with European allies to punish Russia, the ban was a unilateral decision. European leaders have struggled to find a way to disentangle themselves from their heavy dependence on Russian energy, but say they are working to reduce imports by two-thirds by the end of the year. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russian oil will be banned in the U.K., an oil-producing country, by that point, but such a measure will prove much more difficult for other G-7 nations like Germany, Italy, and Japan. European countries account for half of Russia’s oil exports.
During his announcement, Biden said that the ban is “not without costs” to Americans already struggling with skyrocketing gas prices. Retail gasoline prices in the U.S. soared to a record-breaking high Tuesday, bringing the average cost for a gallon of gas to $4.173, up from $2.77 a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.
“Since Putin began his military buildup on Ukrainian borders, just since then, the price of the gas at the pump in America went up 75 cents. And with this action, it’s going to go up further,” Biden said.
Later in the day, reporters caught up with him as he arrived in Fort Worth, Texas ahead of a scheduled veterans’ health event. Biden was asked if he had a message for Americans concerned with rising fuel costs. “They’re going to go up,” he said bluntly. Pressed on what he plans to do about it, Biden, who referred to rising gas prices as “Putin’s price hike,” replied, “Can’t do much right now. Russia is responsible.”
BIDEN: “I can’t do much right now” about record high gas prices because “Russia’s responsible.”
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 8, 2022
Biden’s statement resulted in immediate backlash, with many saying that Biden was eager to shift the blame for a problem that they believe was started by his administration. RNC research tweeted a graph showing that the price of gas has steadily increased since December, saying, “Gas prices have been steadily rising for weeks, long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
Texas Senator John Cornyn told Fox News, “We’re seeing the product of a flawed energy policy. We’ve seen a huge spike in prices even before the invasion of Ukraine.”
Congressional Democrats facing tough midterm elections have become increasingly concerned with growing voter discontent with the Biden administration’s handling of the economy and, like the president, have shifted blame for economic woes in the U.S. to Russia. Meanwhile, their Republican counterparts are urging the administration to open up domestic drilling and pipeline projects in the U.S. to foster American energy independence and alleviate costs for struggling Americans.