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Colorado's US senators on board with US ban on importing Russian oil and gas

Idea has been discussed by top US officials in recent days; senators signed on to bill last week
denver gas prices march 2022
Posted at 4:45 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 18:54:29-05

DENVER – Both of Colorado’s Democratic U.S. senators say they are on board with banning the U.S. import of Russian oil as the Biden administration discusses such a move and as gasoline prices push above $3.70 statewide in Colorado.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday the U.S. was looking at a way to ban importing Russian oil along with its European partners, some of which have been hesitant to move forward because of their reliance on Russian natural gas.

Last week, Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., was one of 18 senators from both parties who signed on to a bill that would stop the importation of Russian oil and gas products as prices started to rise following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Let’s end Russian oil imports today and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy sources so we never use it again,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she's "all for" a ban of the sort.

Sen. Michael Bennet said he was also on board with the measure, the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act.

“It’s time to liberate America from Russian oil imports that enable Putin’s lawless war against Ukraine,” Bennet said. “We need to secure our energy independence and supercharge our transition to clean energy.”

Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., said in an interview late last month that passing a new supplemental funding bill to address to Ukraine invasion would be key to funding the control of foreign assets.

Gasoline prices have jumped to their highest levels nationwide since July 2008, and have risen by 45 cents per gallon over the past week, according to AAA. According to GasBuddy, the average price of a gallon of gas in Colorado on Monday was $3.73, and experts expect nationwide prices to increase even without a ban. The average in Colorado, according to AAA, was $3.75 per gallon.

While the U.S. is the world’s largest oil producer, it is also the largest consumer. It imported around 8% of its oil imports last year – around 245 million barrels – from Russia, which is less than it imported from Canada or Mexico.

Gasoline prices were rising before Russia invaded Ukraine amid inflation. Biden said at the onset of the Russian invasion that his administration would be “using every tool at our disposal” to protect Americans from rising gasoline prices.

“American oil and gas companies should not exploit this moment to raise profits,” Biden added last week.

U.S. officials traveled to Venezuela over the weekend to try to resume relations by easing sanctions and trying to urge the Venezuelan government to re-enter the U.S. energy market to try to offset further rising oil and gas prices should the U.S. cut Russia off.

And while some, including Colorado’s Republicans, have called for more production from U.S. oil and gas manufacturers, some of the larger oil companies in Colorado have said they are holding off on new production, as Colorado Newsline reported last week.

As oil prices increased again on Monday, U.S. stocks fell in response, though experts told The Associated Press there would likely be some volatility in the markets because of the ongoing Russian invasion and sweeping sanctions effected by the U.S. and Europe in response.