Commentary: We need to be free of our dependence on Russian oil

March 7, 2022
By Susan Combs
San Antonio Express-News


With Putin’s war raging in Ukraine, the European Union has found itself in the midst of an energy and moral crisis. The European Union has put themselves in the position of relying on a ruthless dictator for 41percent of its natural gas needs, and helping to fund his military buildup.


We, unfortunately, are in a less dire but similar place, with some in Washington seeking to take us down the same path as the European Union. In fact, those efforts to reduce fossil fuels in America caused President Joe Biden to plead with OPEC, not the United States, to increase its oil production.


What is even worse, is we currently import about 22 million barrels of oil per month and about 8 percent of our oil and gas needs from Russia. And the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects America to become a net importer of crude oil in 2022.


It is reported that Putin issued a white paper in July of 2021 that foretold his plans to invade Ukraine. That begs two questions: Why did the United States continue buying oil from Russia with this information widely available? And more importantly, why are we continuing to send money to Putin funding his wars when we have the ability here at home to meet our energy needs? As the leader of the free world, the United States must show the same resolve as the United Nations just showed in condemning Russia and demanding their immediate withdrawal from Ukraine. And the most urgent step to do that is to stop these imports.


With the rich resources ranging from the Permian Basin in Texas to the oil fields of North Dakota and Alaska and throughout the United States, there is no reason even one American dollar should be sent to Russia for oil. As Sen. Joe Manchin points out, we can “overproduce what Russia has been sending in.”


The president must wake up to the fact that Russia poses not only an energy problem, but a national security problem. While President Joe Biden talked tough in his State of the Union Address, he failed to do what will have the largest impact on Putin’s ability to continue this war — banning the United States’ purchases of Russian oil. As the former Texas comptroller, I was charged with ensuring Texas tax dollars did not directly or indirectly fund adversarial actions against the United States or our allies. The same charge applies to the president of the United States.


Now is the time for common sense. Increasing oil and gas production is a no-brainer. And it can be done without harming our environment. Through new technologies and carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), energy companies have been reducing their emissions while increasing output, without government mandates. But there is more we can and must do.


We need the president to allow the free market to work and permit our oil and gas producers to step up and fill the energy gap. This will solidify American energy independence and enhance our national security. We do not need OPEC or Russia to supply us with oil. We need the freedom for our producers to do so.


Susan Combs is the former Texas Comptroller and current Advisory Board Chairwoman of the Carbon Neutral Coalition.


This first appeared on March 7 in the San Antonio Express-News.

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