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Biden bans Russian oil imports amid pleas from Rick Warren, others

 President Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the Russian invasion of Ukraine, from the East Room of the White House on Feb. 24, 2022, in Washington, D.C. - Biden announced "devastating" Western sanctions against Russia on Thursday. After a virtual, closed-door meeting, the G7 democracies said they stand firm against Russia's "threat to the rules-based international order." |

Following calls from an influential megachurch pastor and other public figures to ban the importation of Russian oil in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden has signed an executive order that would do just that as gas prices in the United States reach record highs.

The White House announced Tuesday that President Joe Biden would sign an executive order banning “Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal to the United States.” According to a White House fact sheet on the executive order, the Biden administration “has already committed to releasing more than 90 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve this fiscal year, with an emergency sale of 30 million barrels just announced last week.” 

The White House pushed back on the idea that “federal policies are not limiting the production of oil and gas” even though the president signed an executive order on his first day in office “revoking the March 2019 Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline” because it would “not serve the national interest.”

After issuing an executive order pulling the plug on the importing of Russian oil, the White House insisted that “U.S. oil and gas production is approaching record highs, while thousands of drilling permits on federal lands go unused.”

Additionally, the White House pointed to a “clean energy future” as a way to “avoid high gas prices,” citing reduced “dependency on oil” as “the only way to eliminate Putin’s and every other oil producing country’s ability to use oil as an economic weapon.”

Based on the White House’s line of thinking, an energy-independent U.S. means “reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

The White House’s actions follow criticism of American reliance on Russian oil from several public figures.

Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, an evangelical megachurch in California, took to social media last week to express his outrage over the U.S.’s continued purchase of oil from Russia.

“Everyday that the U.S. continues to buy 600,000 more barrels of Russian oil A DAY, we are funding the murder of Ukraine. Appalling. Indefensible. Stop it now,” he wrote on social media.

Warren posted similar statements on both Twitter and Facebook.

AFP Fact Check, the fact-checking arm of Agence France-Presse, subjected Warren’s post to a fact check, insisting that “the figures fluctuate monthly, but U.S. average daily imports of Russian crude were less than 200,000 in 2021. According to AFP Fact Check, “The average daily total for that year only surpasses 600,000 when refined products are included.” 

A poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, released Monday, found that over 70% of Americans support a ban on importing Russian oil into the U.S. even if it meant higher gas prices. 

While Warren identified the import of oil from Russia following the invasion of Ukraine as a cause for concern, he did not explicitly offer a solution to the problem.

Other public figures have offered a remedy that they believe would accomplish the goal of banning Russian oil from the U.S. while keeping gas prices low for U.S. consumers.

Elon Musk, the founder of the electric car company Tesla, took to Twitter Friday to proclaim that “we need to increase oil & gas output immediately.” Additionally, Musk noted that “this would negatively affect Tesla, but sustainable energy solutions cannot react instantaneously to make up for Russian oil & gas exports.”

In a video, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, praised the administration for cutting off Russian oil while suggesting that the U.S. should take advantage of its own natural resources rather than relying on other countries for energy.

“We import about 200,000 barrels of Russian oil a day and we can easily replace that by just producing 200,000 barrels a day more of our own oil. We can easily do that very quickly. We don’t need oil from Russia. We don’t need oil from Iran. We don’t need oil from Venezuela.”

Rubio’s remarks follow a report from The Washington Post published over the weekend asserting that high-level administration officials met with Venezuela, another nation that has faced sanctions from the U.S. due to authoritarian behavior, about possibly lifting sanctions on Venezuelan oil to allow the communist country to export its oil here and help replace the oil deficit caused by the absence of Russian oil. 

Critics of the Biden administration attribute the energy policy under his administration and other Western governments to the emboldening and empowering of Russia that gave it the resources to invade Ukraine in the first place.

Michael Shellenberger, the author of Apocalypse Never, unveiled a lengthy Twitter thread Thursday featuring data showing that “15 years ago Europe exported more national gas than Russia does today.” 

“Now, Russia exports 3x more gas than Europe produces. Why? Because climate activists, partly funded by Russia, blocked fracking.”

Shellenberger shared an op-ed from The Wall Street Journal highlighting how “Russia … engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations working against shale gas to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.” 

GasBuddy, a website designed to help Americans find cheap gas, reported Monday that the average price of gasoline in the U.S. reached a record high of $4.104 per gallon, eclipsing the previous record of $4.103 per gallon set in 2008. Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, predicted that “The high prices are likely to stick around for not days or weeks, like they did in 2008, but months.” 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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