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US Senators Introduce Act to Ban Russian Oil, Energy Imports

russian oil ban us
Korchagina oil field in Russia. Credt: Pavel Gurenchuk/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 3.0

US Senators introduced a bill that would ban Russian oil and energy imports on Thursday. The “Banning Russian Energy Imports Act” already has widespread support, says senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, who said that the legislation was just drawn up yesterday.

Manchin, who is chairman of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, along with Republican senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Democrat senator Jon Tester from Montana, and other members of the House, introduced the bill during a news conference on Thursday.

The bill, if passed, would ban Russian petroleum and petroleum products such as crude oil and coal. Manchin stated during the press conference that the bill showed “the united support we have for Ukraine.”

Bipartisan support for bill to ban Russian oil imports

Although politicians across the aisle have called for a ban on energy imports since Russia invaded Ukraine last week, the Biden administration has moved to restrict oil imports from the country, as it could lead to a drastic spike in prices.

However, when asked explicitly about banning Russian oil, President Biden was open to the idea, as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Gas prices across the US have increased dramatically since the war began, even without any ban on Russian oil. In some parts of the country, gas prices have reached and surpassed $5 per gallon.

Speaker of the House and Democratic Senator from Baltimore Nancy Pelosi backed the bill on Thursday, stating “I’m all for that—ban it. Ban the oil coming from Russia,” during a press conference.

Russia is currently the third-largest oil producer in the world and it contributes over 10% to the global supply, but many countries are looking to lessen their dependency on Russian oil in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Countries in Europe are also looking to diversify their energy imports to distance themselves from Russia.

Countries looking to sever dependency on Russian oil

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called a halt to the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project last Tuesday as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Originally meant to enable a doubling of the amount of natural gas from Russia to Germany, the project will now not go forward after Russia formally recognized the independence of the Donbass, the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

The gigantic energy project, worth $11 billion, was completed in September of 2021, but had not been put into operation since it had become embroiled in international politics, awaiting certification by Germany and the European Union.

Nord Stream had been a point of contention between Germany and the US for years, with American officials concerned that the pipeline would stoke yet more tensions between Russia and the West.

Facing a potential energy crisis after the invasion of Ukraine, Greece is in talks with Bulgaria on building a new nuclear power plant on Bulgarian territory to also be used by Greece in order to cover part of its energy needs.

Although the US produces the largest amount of oil in the world, the country consumes much more than it produces, so it relies on foreign important from countries around the world like Saudi Arabia and Canada.

Less than 10% of the oil the US imports comes from Russia, which may seem insignificant but amounts to hundreds of thousands of Russian oil barrels coming into the US each day.

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