President Joe Biden and his administration said Americans should reduce their consumption of oil and gas in order to keep prices down and ultimately punish Russian President Vladimir Putin.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki reacted to calls for the United States to stop importing oil from Russia in order to further punish Putin for escalating his invasion of Ukraine.
She said President Joe Biden and his administration were not interested in banning imports of oil from Russia, because reducing the supply would only increase prices and enrich the Russians.
“What this is all a reminder of in the president’s view is our need to reduce our reliance on oil,” Psaki said in a conversation with reporters at the daily briefing. “The Europeans need to do that. We need to do that.”
She tried to downplay the amount of oil imported by the U.S. by Russia, even though imports of crude oil to the U.S. have doubled from a year ago.
“It’s only about ten percent of what we’re importing,” Psaki said.
She said the White House is looking for actions that “maximizes the impact on president Putin” and “minimizes it on the American people.”
“We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy,” she said.
There is growing support from Congress in a ban on oil imports from Russia.
Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Jon Tester (D-MT) announced legislation on Thursday that would ban Russian energy imports.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also endorsed the idea during her press conference on Thursday.
“I’m all for that — ban it,” she said. “Ban the oil coming from Russia.”
Republicans are using high oil prices to call for the production of more oil in the U.S.
Psaki mocked the idea of Biden allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to go forward.
“The Keystone pipeline has never been operational. It would take years for that to have any impact,” she said when asked about Republican calls to approve the pipeline.
“That is a proposed solution that has no relationship or would have no impact of what the problem is,” she added.
The pipeline was first rejected by former President Barack Obama in 2015, and despite former President Donald Trump’s effort to restore the project, Biden again banned it after taking office in 2021.
Psaki also blamed oil companies for not drilling enough on existing oil leases on federal land.
She indicated that Biden had more sanctions planned for wealthy Russian oligarchs in order to put more pressure on Putin.
“We want him to feel the squeeze, we want people around him to feel the squeeze,” she said.