By Breanne Deppisch, Energy and Environment Reporter
Sen. Joe Manchin called on President Joe Biden to ramp up domestic energy production to curtail the United States’s reliance on Russian oil and gas imports, accusing the White House of pushing “hypocritical” policies.
The West Virginia Democrat said in a statement late Monday that the U.S. importing about a half-million barrels of oil products from Russia a month poses a “clear and present danger to U.S. national security.”
The “entire world is watching as Vladimir Putin uses energy as a weapon in an attempt to extort and coerce our European allies,” said Manchin, who leads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Many Republicans have said in recent days that Russia’s aggression vindicates the case for added U.S. production of fossil fuels, but it’s unusual for a member of Biden’s own party to make the same argument. Manchin, though, has long favored fossil fuel production and has been skeptical of his party’s regulatory agenda.
“While Americans decry what is happening in Ukraine, the United States continues to allow the import of more than half a million barrels per day of crude oil and other petroleum products from Russia during this time of war,” Manchin said. “This makes no sense at all and represents a clear and present danger to our nation’s energy security.”
“The United States can and must ramp up domestic energy production and increase access to our abundant resources and technologies to both protect our energy independence and support our allies around the globe,” Manchin said.
His statement came as oil prices ticked upward, with West Texas Intermediate crude futures closing near $96 a barrel, up roughly $20 a barrel from two months ago.
The statement also came before Biden is slated to deliver his first State of the Union address at the Capitol.
Manchin’s Republican counterpart on the committee, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, also said Monday that she has asked the Biden administration to consider “further utilization of domestic oil resources” in her home state of Alaska, according to Politico. Failing to utilize the state’s natural resources, she said, would be “a missed opportunity” as the U.S. seeks to move away from Russian imports.