With Russia cutoff, Republicans, environmental advocates differ on path to energy independence

Republicans push for an increase of oil production at home, while others are concerned about climate change.
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 12:14 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Americans are nervous about rising gas prices in the U.S. after the president announced a ban on Russian energy imports Tuesday. One Alaska senator believes the solution to lowering the prices lies right here at home.

“We need to be producing that energy from America,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Ala.).

While President Joe Biden said the U.S. will no longer import energy from Russia, Sen. Sullivan said the president needs to take it a step further by expanding energy production at home. President Biden argues nothing is stopping oil companies from production right now, but the administration also says it is committed to greener energy and eventually moving away from fossil fuels. Sullivan thinks these efforts make the U.S. reliant on bad actors like Russia.

“It hurts our families, it hurts our workers, but it empowers dictators like Putin,” said Sullivan.

With Russian oil out of the picture and gas in high demand, President Biden said his administration will tap into millions of barrels from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve. Sullivan said instead, let Alaska ramp up production.

“Tap America’s strategic petroleum reserve which is the great state of Alaska,” said Sullivan.

Environment-focused Democrats on Capitol HIll back the administration’s decision to tap into reserves to get the country through a price surge. Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) said while the war in Ukraine is top of mind, the battle against climate change does not need to stop.

“We’re all trying to wean our way off of fossil fuels, whether it’s through conservation, whether it’s through development of renewables, tax breaks for solar, electric cars,” said Titus.

Titus said she constantly notices the effects of climate change in her desert district.

David Kieve from the Environmental Defense Fund acknowledged the need for short term relief as Americans struggle with high prices. But he argues the best way to ensure price stability and free the U.S. from international entanglements is to move away from oil.

“Leading the way to a clean energy transition will really lead the way to American energy independence,” said Kieve.

In 2021, the U.S. imported over 245 million barrels of oil and petroleum products from Russia. The year before, roughly 200 million barrels.

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