US considers cut Russian oil imports amid broad public support

Russian supertanker Astro Lupus waits in the Gulf of Mexico to unload a cargo of Russian crude in Houston. (2002, Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is considering cutting U.S. imports of Russian oil and finding ways to minimize the impact on global inventories and consumers, the White House said Friday, as lawmakers accelerated a bill that would completely shut down Russian energy imports. would ban.

“We are looking for ways to reduce imports of Russian oil while ensuring we remain in global supply needs,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing. The White House remains in contact with US lawmakers on the matter, she said.

US Senators Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Lisa Murkowski, a Republican in Alaska, proposed on Thursday a bipartisan legislation to ban Russian energy imports in response to the invasion of Ukraine, calling it a counterweight to the ‘arming’ energy by Russia.

The bill is speeding up in the Senate and the White House could rely on legislation to ban imports, a move that would help share the blame for any price spikes.

A broad bipartisan majority of Americans believe the United States should stop buying Russian oil, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed Friday. About 80% of Americans – including a solid majority of Republicans and Democrats – support the measure.

Still, the White House is proceeding cautiously, concerned about a spike in gasoline prices that would contribute to decades of high inflation.

Americans are by far the world’s largest consumers of gasoline, thanks to large cars, long driving distances and little public transportation in many areas, and rising gas prices have historically been political poison for American leaders.

The United States imported an average of more than 20.4 million barrels of crude and refined products per month from Russia in 2021, about 8% of U.S. liquid fuel imports, 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 reviewing a series of possible steps.

“What’s really most important is that we maintain (a) steady supply of global energy,” she said at the briefing, adding that the government is “considering a range of options we can take now if we were to cut” in the budget. consumption of Russian energy.

Their comments come as oil prices rose in the past week after the United States and its allies imposed sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.