Push to ban Russian fossil fuels continue; McKinley introduces bill calling for halting imports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Discussions related to banning imports of Russian fossil fuels continue on Capitol Hill, with one West Virginia legislator introducing a bill directed at stopping such shipments and increasing domestic energy production.

U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., announced Monday the Regaining Energy Freedom and Undeniable Security and Preserving U.S. Trade Interests Now Act — or the REFUSE PUTIN Act — as lawmakers push similar measures in response to Russia’s attack against Ukraine.

U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va. (File)

The legislation would prohibit the importation of petroleum, natural gas and coal from Russia and direct the White House to repeal actions to boost energy production, including authorizing the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“The solution is simple: stop subsidizing [Russian President Vladamir] Putin’s war machine. Expand energy production, including coal, oil and gas, to restore American energy independence and enhance our ability to provide energy to our allies,” McKinley said in a press release. “We simply can’t continue to allow Russia to profit from its energy sales while Putin kills innocent civilians in Ukraine.”

Russia is the world’s third-largest oil producer behind the United States and Saudi Arabia. Most of the country’s exports go to European nations and China. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Russia contributed around 7.9% of the United States’ oil imports in 2021.

The measure would additionally repeal multiple executive orders and actions directed at addressing climate change and reducing pollution with policies McKinley argues would increase fossil fuel extraction.

The bill would also allow for the construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline. One of President Joe Biden’s first actions in office was issuing an executive order canceling the permit for the project. The pipeline, if completed, would have transported thousands of barrels of oil from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska.

TC Energy Corp. announced the project’s cancellation in June 2021.

McKinley’s bill is just one proposal aimed at stopping Russian imports. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is the lead sponsor of a related measure, the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is cosponsoring the legislation.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (File)

“We’ve got to make a commitment,” Manchin told reporters Monday. “The United States has been and will be and can be again energy independent. We must do that.”

Manchin said there are possibilities for the United States to extract oil and natural gas. The senator encouraged the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the 303-mile system that would transport natural gas from Wetzel County to southwestern Virginia.

“Should be done immediately,” he added.

Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he hopes the White House accepts these proposals. He contended the increase in fossil fuels would not be moving away from embracing renewable energy sources or addressing climate change.

“We’re going to do a transition to renewables. We’re going to invest in clean technologies,” he said. “But we’re going to protect ourselves and protect the free world, and most of the free world runs on the horsepower of fossil. That’s the reality.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there are talks among officials and between the Biden administration and international leaders regarding a ban on Russian oil imports. Officials also recently traveled to Venezuela to discuss easing oil sanctions placed on the country.





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