President Joe Biden's likely call in tonight's State of the Union address for energy independence from hostile nations like Russia will be meaningless unless he drops his administration's opposition to new domestic oil and gas production, according to congressional Republicans who spoke with the Washington Free Beacon.
The crisis in Ukraine, the lawmakers said, would not hurt so many Americans at the gas pump if the federal government used an all-of-the-above energy strategy and allowed new oil and gas drilling. Gas prices sit at an eight-year high, and many analysts expect them to go up.
"One of the first executive orders Biden signed was to stop construction of the Keystone Pipeline. He has essentially stopped energy exploration leases and rolled back fracking," said Rep. Rob Wittman (R., Va.). "He said on the campaign he wasn't going to do that. But by default, they've done that."
Biden is expected to renew his administration's push for green energy during his speech, viewing it as a way to reduce dependence on Russian energy in the wake of the country's invasion of Ukraine. The Biden administration undercut the president's messaging when it released a report arguing that a push for green energy would drive America into China's arms.
Rep. French Hill (R., Ark.) compared the energy crisis the country faces to a similar one decades ago, when another Democratic president saw his term stall amid gas shortages and runaway inflation.
"In the morning when Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter wake up, they have their cup of coffee and they thank God for Joe Biden because there's now a president worse than he was when he was in office," he said. "We're facing a lot of the same issues: unrest in the Middle East, a gasoline petroleum crisis, inflation at home, and potentially stagflation if the economy softens this year as interest rates go up."
Other Republicans questioned why the Biden administration allows any importation of Russian oil when Vladimir Putin is engaged in an illegal war against Ukraine.
"Last night, the secretary of the interior was asked why are we still buying Russian oil and it was obvious that she was not telling the truth," said Rep. Greg Murphy (R., N.C.). "She was squirming. She said she wanted to sell our 25- and 50-year plan. Well, you know, unless we stop feeding the Russian oil machine, we won't have a 25-to-50-year plan. And so enough of the nonsense."
Cutting ourselves off from Russian oil, said Rep. John Joyce (R., Pa.), is a matter of security for Europe, as many fear Putin’s ambitions extend far beyond Ukraine.
"We need to support our allies. And we can do that with the currency of energy. We can export the energy that right now so much of Europe is reliant on from Russia," Joyce said. "Even in the United States, 10 percent of our oil comes from Russia. And yet we have the capabilities, those energy sources are under the feet of my constituents in Pennsylvania. We have natural gas, we have Marcellus Shale, we have coal, we have oil, we need to utilize those and again and show energy dominance."
Rep. Don Bacon (R., Neb.) went a step further and called the United States' purchase of Russia-produced oil "blood money."
"You know why Biden doesn't want to do anything about gas prices? Because he cut our production," Bacon said. "He's already owning high prices and he's afraid to make it worse by sanctioning Russia's oil and gas sector. He's in a catch-22 and he can't go backwards, but he should."
"Every crisis Joe Biden faces today has been of his own making," Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.) told the Free Beacon.
Moving forward, Republicans argue that Biden has a choice on energy independence. Biden can anger his "far-left allies by investing in American energy independence," Rep. Rodney Davis (R., Ill.) said, "or he can choose to do the right thing and help our European and Ukrainian allies by providing them American energy sources instead of forcing them and us to continue to purchase them from Vladimir Putin."