Republican governors call on Biden to prioritize U.S. oil and gas production


By Bethany Blankley

North Dakota can produce enough crude oil to offset dependence on Russian imports, but the Biden administration is prohibiting it from doing so, the state's governor and U.S. senators argue.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and 24 Republican governors have called on President Joe Biden to prioritize U.S. oil and gas production and restore American energy independence. They did so as crude oil hit $120 a barrel and is expected to surpass $200 a barrel, causing gas prices, and everything that depends on gasoline for transport, to skyrocket.

The market went into a correction on Monday, after the U.S. already entered into a 40-year inflationary high. Both are expected to push the U.S. toward a volatile recession.

This was totally avoidable, Burgum said.

“From the unsecured southern border to the underutilized oil fields of North Dakota, President Biden’s misguided policies continue to put U.S. citizens at risk and hold America back,” he said.

“The Biden administration has again failed to meet its obligation to hold a federal oil lease sale, [which] is further proof that this administration isn’t serious about U.S. energy security. The President needs to reverse his anti-oil policies and unleash American energy production to protect U.S. consumers and return our nation to a position where we can sell energy to our friends and allies instead of importing it from adversaries like Russia.”

The Biden administration argues that its restrictions on oil and gas production are necessary to combat climate change and that there are enough untapped permits for drilling on federal land that the industry could increase production if it wanted to.

North Dakota produces more than 1.13 million barrels of crude a day and 2,990,340 MCF (thousand cubic feet) of natural gas a day.

Crude oil production from North Dakota alone would easily offset the imports from Russia, the governor argues.

In Biden’s first year in office, he halted and restricted oil and gas leases on federal lands, stopped construction of the Keystone Pipeline, and redirected U.S. policy to import more oil from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia (OPEC+) instead of bolstering American oil and gas exploration and production.

While U.S. production on federal lands was stifled in 2021, the U.S. imported 8.47 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined products, of which 672,000 barrels per day (8%) came from Russia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. The U.S. also imported 6.10 million barrels per day of crude oil, of which 199,000 barrels per day (3%) came from Russia.

The U.S. has been importing about 473,000 barrels per day of refined products from Russia, Andrew Lipow of Houston-based Lipow Oil Associates LLC, told The Center Square in an email. Of this, 354,000 barrels a day is unfished oils, which means they need to be upgraded in refineries in the U.S. – mostly on the Gulf Coast, because the Russian refineries aren’t unable to upgrade them.

The U.S. also imports 697,000 barrels a day of gasoline blendstocks, of which 50,000 barrels a day (7%) came from Russia, Lipow said. This mainly goes to states on the East Coast.

The U.S. also imports 287,000 barrels a day of distillate, of which 23,000 barrels a day (8%) come from Russia. This also mainly goes to states on the East Coast, he said.

The 25 governors in their joint statement to Biden called on him “to reverse his policies and restore America’s energy independence for our citizens as well as our allies abroad.

“By removing his bans on new oil and gas development on federal lands, building the Keystone XL pipeline, and reinstating regulatory reforms to streamline energy permitting, we can protect our national energy security and sell to our friends rather than buy from our enemies – specifically Russia."

Governors from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming signed the letter.

North Dakota’s two Republican U.S. senators, John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, along with seven other cosponsors, also introduced the American Energy Independence from Russia Act in the U.S. Senate.

The bill would require the Biden administration to submit an energy independence plan to Congress within 30 days that provides an energy security evaluation and risk assessment, and plans to leverage America’s oil and gas resources.

It would authorize the construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Biden shut down when he entered office, and remove regulatory hurdles to increase liquefied natural gas exports.

It also would prohibit any presidential moratoria on new federal leases and require the U.S. Department of Interior to hold a minimum of four oil and natural gas lease sales in fiscal year 2022 in each state that has federal land available for leasing. It also would prohibit the U.S. Energy Department Secretary from drawing down the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until the Secretary of the Interior issues a plan to increase oil and gas production on federal lands and waters.

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