US plans to cut Russian oil imports amid broad public support
(Reuters) – The Biden administration is considering cutting U.S. imports of Russian oil and ways to minimize the impact on global supplies and consumers, the White House said on Friday, as lawmakers fast-track a bill that would ban Russian energy imports entirely.
“We are looking at ways to reduce Russian oil imports while ensuring global supply needs are maintained,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during a press briefing. The White House remains in contact with U.S. lawmakers on the matter, she said.
US Senators Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, on Thursday proposed bipartisan legislation to ban Russian energy imports in response to the invasion of Ukraine, calling it a countermeasure to Russia’s energy “weapons”.
The bill is being fast-tracked through the Senate, and the White House could rely on the legislation to ban imports, a move that would help share blame for any price spikes.
A large bipartisan majority of Americans believe the United States should stop buying Russian oil, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Friday. Some 80% of Americans – including strong majorities of Republicans and Democrats – support the measure.
Still, the White House is proceeding with caution, concerned about a spike in gasoline prices that would add to decades-high inflation.
Americans are by far the biggest gas consumers in the world, thanks to big cars, long driving distances and little public transportation in many areas, and rising gas prices have traditionally been political poison. for American leaders.
The United States imported more than 20.4 million barrels of crude and refined products per month on average in 2021 from Russia, or about 8% of US imports of liquid fuels, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
White House economic adviser Cecilia Rouse noted that while the United States does not import much Russian oil, it is still considering a series of possible steps.
“What’s really most important is that we maintain (a) steady supply of global energy,” she said during the briefing, adding that the administration was “considering a range of options that we could take now if we were going to reduce” consumption. Russian energy.
Their comments come as oil prices have soared over the past week after the United States and its allies sanctioned Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.