By Joni Ernst
After weeks of dragging their feet, and under bipartisan pressure, last week the Biden administration finally took steps to ban imports of oil and natural gas from Russia. As Putin continues his assault on freedom and slaughters innocent men, women, and children in Ukraine, the president made the right decision to end purchasing of Russia’s bloody oil. But what took so long?
It’s important to remember that in his first days in office, President Biden took unilateral action to reduce American energy production. He ended the Keystone XL pipeline, paused leasing of federal lands and waters for drilling, and prioritized far-Left climate priorities like electric vehicles. As a result, the United States shifted from a net exporter of energy to becoming reliant on adversaries, like Russia. In fact, last year, the United States imported over 670,000 barrels a day from Russia. And as gasoline prices continued to rise for Americans across the country, the Biden administration refused to turn to America’s own energy production and instead stayed the course on their out-of-touch climate agenda.
Hardworking Iowans share the concerns of folks across the country about higher gas prices. They also know the answer is not to turn to our adversaries, either to import energy or the materials and batteries used for electric vehicles—which are often Chinese-made and mined by Chinese companies using slave labor. Iowans know the answer is to take immediate, decisive action to unleash the American energy sector to protect both our national security and consumers at the pump.
Our state can play a vital role in reducing our dependence on Russia. This week, Senator Chuck Grassley and I put forward bipartisan legislation to replace Russian oil with clean, American-made renewable fuels that are available right now. Our new bill, the Home Front Energy Independence Act, puts into law a ban on Russian oil and couples it with opening up the use and production of biofuel that’s grown in the American heartland. It will make E15 available year-round, establish an E15 and Biodiesel Tax Credit, direct EPA to finalize their E15 labeling rule, and provide for biofuel infrastructure and compatibility with retailers. The current excess ethanol capacity domestically is nearly the same as the amount of Russian gas the U.S. had been importing, and we have the capability to ramp up production. It’s time Congress takes action to allow our renewable fuels industry to fill the gap and provide consumers with a more affordable choice at the pump.
Energy security is national security, and the Biden administration’s misguided energy policies have no doubt impacted the crises we’re seeing unfold both abroad and here at home. We need to return to American energy independence and Iowa biofuel is ready to play its part. This effort has the support of Democrats and Republicans, will be a boost for the hardworking farmers and producers across the Midwest, and will help punish Putin and his cronies.
Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate