Biden claims 'not true' he is holding back US energy, warns Russian oil ban will cost Americans

White House has ‘head in the sand’ with global energy policy: Sen. Lummis

Wyoming Republican discusses sanctioning the Russian oil sector on ‘Americas Newsroom.’

President Biden on Tuesday said it is “not true” that his administration is holding back domestic energy production, while warning that the United States’ ban of Russian oil imports will “cost” American families, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.

Biden on Tuesday warned that gas prices will “go up further” from their current record levels, and he reiterated his support for government spending on renewable energy sources and criticizing the oil and gas industry for not taking full advantage of drilling opportunities in the U.S.

President Biden announces a ban on Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington. 
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Americans are experiencing the highest gas prices since the 2008 financial crisis, with the national gas price average reaching more than $4 per gallon – the highest average to date, according to AAA.

“The decision today is not without cost here at home,” Biden warned. “Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump since Putin began his military buildup on Ukrainian borders.” 

“And with this action, it’s going to go up further,” he continued. “I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home in coordination with our partners.” 

The Biden administration announced this week that it is releasing “60 million barrels of oil from our joint-oil reserves,” with Biden noting that half of that is “coming from the United States.” 

The president also maintained that his administration is taking steps to ensure the “reliable supply of global energy,” and is working with “every tool in our disposal to protect American families and businesses.”

“We understand Putin’s war against the people of Ukraine is causing prices to rise — we get that,” Biden said, directed at “oil and gas companies and the finance firms that back them.”

“But it’s no excuse to exercise excessive price increases or padding profits or any kind of effort to exploit this situation or American consumers,” Biden said. “Russia’s aggression is costing us all, and it’s no time for profiting or price gouging.” 

He also acknowledged oil and gas companies “that are pulling out of Russia and joining other businesses that are leading by example.”

“This is a time when we have to do our part and make sure we’re not taking advantage,” Biden said.

Defending his administration, Biden said it is “simply not true” that his policies “are holding back domestic energy production.”

“Even amid the pandemic, companies in the United States pumped more oil during my first year in office than they did during my predecessor’s first year,” he said.

“We’re approaching record levels of oil and gas production in the United States and we’re on track to set a record of oil production next,” he said, adding that in the U.S. “90% of onshore oil production takes place on land that isn’t owned by the federal government.” 

“And the remaining 10% that occurs on federal land, the oil and gas industry has millions of acres leased — they have 9,000 permits to drill,” he said. “Now, they could be drilling right now. Yesterday, last week, last year, they have 9,000 [permits] to drill onshore that are already approved.”

“So let me be clear: they are not using them for production. That’s their decision,” he said. “These are the facts. We should be honest about the facts.” 

But American Petroleum Institute CEO Mike Sommers told FOX Business on Monday that the White House “certainly doesn’t have their facts straight on this,” adding that a lease is merely the first step in a process that includes investigating whether there is any oil or gas in the land.

Biden has been facing criticism from Republicans, urging him to lift his executive orders that canceled the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and froze new oil and gas leases on federal lands.

Biden went on to say that this “crisis” is a “stark reminder” that, in order to “protect our economy over the long term,” the United States needs “to become energy independent.”

Biden noted that he has had “numerous conversations” with European allies over the last several months “about how they have to wean themselves off Russian oil.”

“It’s just not tenable,” he said.

Biden added, though, that the crisis “should motivate” the United States to “accelerate the transition to clean energy.”

For American families, though, Biden admitted investments in clean energy “will not lower energy prices for families,” but said that transforming the economy to “run on electric vehicles powered by clean energy with tax credits to help American families winterize their homes, and use less energy, that will help.” 

“If we do what we can, it will mean that no one has to worry about the price of gas in the future,” Biden said. “That will mean tyrants like Putin won’t be able to use fossil fuels as weapons against other nations, and it will make America a world leader—manufacturing and exporting clean energy technologies of the future to countries all around the world.” 

Biden added: “This is the goal we should be racing toward.”

Biden’s ban on Russian oil imports comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on Monday, called for “boycotts” of Russian oil imports to the U.S. and European countries.

Biden, during his speech from the White House Tuesday, said “many of our European allies and partners may not be in a position to join” the United States in the ban of Russian oil imports.

“The United States produces far more oil domestically than all of Europe and all the European countries combined,” he said, adding that the U.S. is a “net exporter of energy.” “So, we can take this step when others cannot, but we are working closely with Europe and our partners to develop a long-term strategy to reduce their dependence on Russian energy as well.”

Russia is the third-largest producer of oil in the world, but the impact to U.S. oil imports would be “minimal” compared to allies, administration officials told Fox News.

“Our teams are actively discussing how to make this happen, and today, we remain united. We remain united in our purpose to keep pressure mounting on Putin and his war machine,” Biden said, noting that the step is one taken to “inflict further pain on Putin.”

Meanwhile, Biden touted the $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, saying that “shipments of defensive weapons are arriving in Ukraine every day from the United States.”

Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, March 5, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

“But Putin seems determined to continue on his murderous path, no matter the cost,” Biden said.

But the president maintained that “Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin,” saying he “may be able to take a city, but he’ll never be able to hold the country.”

“If we do not respond to Putin’s assault on global peace and stability today, the cost of freedom and to the American people will be even greater tomorrow,” Biden said. “So we’re going to continue to support the brave Ukrainian people as they fight for their country.”

The United Nations on Tuesday reported that 2 million Ukrainians have fled the country since Putin waged war on Feb. 24. The majority of Ukrainian refugees have fled to Poland and neighboring countries. 

Biden called on Congress to pass the $12 billion Ukraine assistance package he has requested, saying the Ukrainian people will “defend their freedom, their democracy, their lives.”

Biden said the United States is going to continue “providing security assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance,” and will support Ukrainians “against tyranny, oppression, violent acts of subjugation.”

“Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger,” Biden said. “And God bless those heroes in Ukraine.”  

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