Lawmakers applaud increased sanctions and urge President to increase energy independence in America. 

President Joe Biden has announced new sanctions on Russia amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

As of Tuesday morning, the United States, through Biden’s executive order, has now banned all imports of Russian oil. This is yet another attempt to punish the country for the current war on Ukraine. It is unclear at this time is Europe will follow suit.

Russia is the third largest producer of oil after the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Russia exports nearly 10.5 million barrels of oil a day as of 2022. This accounts for 11% of the total global oil production.

With the new sanctions in place, gas prices are expected to continue to climb. Oil has increased more than 60 percent so far this year. The U.S. imports about 8 percent of its oil and refined products from Russia, as of 2021’s estimates.

Members of the Mississippi Delegation support the decision to cease the importing of Russian oil and have called for increased energy independence for the U.S. Here is what they are saying:

Senator Roger Wicker

“The U.S. should not be funding Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine by purchasing Russian energy products. This moment of moral clarity requires American leadership. I am glad that President Biden has finally heeded repeated calls to cut off Russia’s energy revenue, and I hope our European allies will soon follow,” said Wicker. “It is also imperative for President Biden to end his war on American energy and renew our nation’s commitment to being energy independent. There is simply no reason that the U.S. cannot supply all of our own energy needs and become a net exporter of energy again. The President should revive the Keystone XL pipeline project, open up oil and gas leases, reduce red tape for exploration, and focus on stabilizing supply and lowering prices for all Americans.”

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith

“President Biden made a big mistake in giving up American energy independence to buy from the likes of Vladimir Putin. The President is giving up Putin’s supply, but he’s also busy trying to decide which tyrant to enrich next.  As we all experience pain at the pump, it’s clear that maximizing U.S. oil and gas production would benefit American families, our economy, and our security,” said Hyde-Smith on Tuesday’s sanctions.

She has previously come out in support of energy independence prior to the heightened conflict in the Ukraine.

“It’s imperative we take back our nation’s energy dominance.  Doing so would help knock the wind out of Russia’s sails, boosting our economy, and strengthen the security of our nation and our allies,” Hyde-Smith said prior to Tuesday’s additional sanctions. “American natural gas should be used to reduce Vladimir Putin’s ability to use Russian energy to intimidate our allies, a threat that’s more real today with Russian troops in Ukraine,” Hyde-Smith said. “This legislation deserves immediate congressional consideration and support from an administration that has otherwise only shown distain for American oil and gas resources as a national security asset.”

Congressman Michael Guest

Congressman Guest joined with other colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden that outlined the importance of increasing domestic oil production.

“As Europe contends with the consequences of their dependence on Russia for reliable energy, it is evident that America’s vast energy resources are a vital and strategic asset in countering Russia’s aggression. As you implore oil and gas producers around the world to increase production, it is imperative that you publicly and unambiguously show support for U.S. oil and natural gas production and exportation,” said Guest.

The letter demands not only a change in rhetoric, but in regulatory and environmental agendas which Guest said have “targeted oil and gas producers without scientific justification or meaningful sanctions on unregulated oil and gas producers throughout the world.”

The letter calls on the Biden Administration to take five actions to increase American oil production:

  1. Abandon the Legislative Assault on U.S. Energy Production
  2. Provide Clarity on Oil and Natural Gas Leasing
  3. Permit Energy Infrastructure Expansion
  4. End Unnecessary and Bureaucratic Regulation
  5. Approve and Expedite Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline

Congressman Steven Palazzo 

Congressman Steven Palazzo

“I have long been an advocate for increasing domestic energy production. The U.S. has the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, and we should be utilizing them to lower the price at the pump for American consumers.  In light of President Biden’s recent announcement to ban Russian energy imports, I encourage the Administration to immediately increase domestic oil and gas production by re-opening the Keystone pipeline and resume offshore lease sales. The U.S. should not look to Venezuela and Iran to help supply America with even more foreign oil and gas when we have the supply right here in our backyard,” said Palazzo.

Congressman Trent Kelly

Congressman Trent Kelly

“President Biden’s policies have wreaked havoc on America’s energy sector, leaving hardworking Mississippians forced to pay record prices at the pump. The U.S. was energy independent just a year ago and there is no reason we can’t be again. President Biden must stop his war on American energy, restore the Keystone XL pipeline project, and get the government out of the way of U.S. oil producers. Energy independence is essential to America’s national defense and we must do everything in our power to preserve it,” said Congressman Trent Kelly.

Even civilians and energy tycoons are changing their previous stances on oil production stateside.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has pushed for the world to move away from the use of fossil fuels, tweeted last Friday that “extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.”

“Hate to say it, but we need to increase oil and gas output immediately,” Musk tweeted.

Upon taking office in 2021, President Biden shut down the long-awaited Keystone Pipeline, a $9 billion project. That decision is now being heavily questioned by many saying it is not too late to get operations back on board.

Currently the premier of Alberta, Canada is calling for construction to resume on the pipeline that was backed by former President Donald Trump in order to replace what will be lost in Russian imports of oil.

“If the United States is serious about this, they could come back and help us build Keystone XL,” Premier Jason Kenney said at a press conference on Monday. “If President Biden had not vetoed that project, it would be done later this year – 840,000 barrels of democratic energy that could have displaced the 600,000 plus barrels of Russian conflict oil that’s filled with the blood of Ukrainians.”

The pipeline would have run 2,147 miles from Hardisty, Alberta to the junction at Steele City, Nebraska.