(NewsNation Now) — With gas prices surging and more sanctions being put on Russia following its unprovoked attacks on Ukraine, there’s been a push to reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil.
Republican lawmakers are specifically proposing opening up federal lands in the U.S. for drilling oil and gas, something that was halted by President Joe Biden through an executive order early in his term.
Republican U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, of Indiana, said the United States is still importing Russian oil.
She added that the U.S. can’t convince other countries to cut off Russian energy unless it does the same.
“We should look at how we’re going to open up our capacity,” Spartz said.
Oil prices soared this week in response to Russia’s escalating war on Ukraine, with U.S. benchmark crude oil soaring past $110 per barrel on Wednesday.
So far, sanctions imposed on Russia for its war with Ukraine do not include oil and gas exports from the country, even though this step would severely hurt Russia’s ability to generate revenue.
Several GOP members of Congress have written to Biden, urging him to stop oil imports from Russia to the U.S., where drilling for oil and gas actually increased during the president’s first year in office.
“The recent events in Ukraine are yet another example of why we should be selling energy to our friends and not buying it from our enemies,” Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt wrote to Biden.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, (R-New York), said America needs to produce the energy it needs to be self-sufficient, while also helping its allies.
The U.S. gets 5% to 10% of its crude oil and refined products from Russia. While the United States does not import gas from Russia, Europe relies on natural gas from Russia for a third of its supply.
Biden, in his State of the Union address, announced the U.S. and 30 other countries will release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves.
West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin is the only member of his party to agree with the resumption of drilling for oil on federal lands.
“We want to make sure there’s no hardship to the American public,” Manchin said. “We can prevent that by ramping up our production. We have the ability.”
Most Democrats, though, are committed to their climate goals — reducing dependence on oil altogether.
“We need to look at other ways of having energy,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during an appearance on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-New York) told NewsNation that some of the Republican rhetoric regarding drilling is driven by the oil lobby.
“There is no crisis in the world that the oil industry doesn’t try to conclude requires more oil drilling,” Whitehouse said.