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The growing chorus of calls for increased oil production in the United States has become bipartisan, as moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Jon Tester (MT) on Tuesday called for producing more oil domestically instead of importing the natural resource from foreign countries.
Approached by CNN’s Manu Raju in the halls of the Capitol, the two Democrats stressed the importance of domestic oil production, even as the Biden administration looks to countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela to make up gaps in the oil supply resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We shouldn’t be advancing other countries who don’t share our values,” Tester opined. “So I think the opportunity here is to do it domestically, create jobs here, deal with it domestically, and also see if we can help Europe out too.”
“[We should] basically go back to the policies that we’ve had before,” Manchin added. “And that’s– we have to do our leasing in the Gulf [of Mexico], ok, [Bureau of Land Management] lands [have] been off-target, all this has to go back in, into production. That’s all we’re asking for. And if we’re asking the rest of the world to step up, let’s show that we’re going to step up. And any oil that’s needed to our allies around the world, we produce it cleaner than anybody.”
Tester, Dem from Montana, on talk of importing Venezuelan and Iranian energy to offset Russian ban: “We shouldn’t be advancing other countries who don’t share our values.”
Manchin: “If we are asking the rest of the world to step up, let’s show that we’re going to step up.” pic.twitter.com/KHYeNYqoGF
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 8, 2022
Manchin has taken it one step further. The Hill reported Tuesday that the moderate Democrat, who currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee, was withholding a vote on the nomination of Laura Daniel-Davis, President Joe Biden’s nominee to become the assistant Interior secretary for land and minerals management, over concerns that the Biden administration was not doing enough to bolster domestic production.
“As we continue to watch energy being used as a weapon of war by Vladimir Putin, the need for increased American energy production is clear to ensure domestic supplies and help our allies,” Manchin spokesman Sam Runyon told The Hill. “Ms. Daniel-Davis has been nominated to serve in a role that would oversee the federal leasing programs, and Senator Manchin would like to see more from the Department that it intends to get back to the business of leasing and production on federal lands and waters in a robust and responsible way.”
Manchin and Tester are the latest members of Congress to call for the U.S. to increase domestic oil production in order to ease skyrocketing gas prices for American consumers at the gas pump.
Gas prices soared to a record high Monday, all the way up to an average of $4.104 per gallon, according to GasBuddy. Gas also saw the highest 7-day price increase on record, spiking 49.1 cents per gallon. Congressional Republicans have been pleading with the Biden administration to revamp domestic oil production for days, but to date, Biden has not yet responded to those calls. Instead, administration officials have floated the idea of purchasing more oil from nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia, and several officials reportedly met with officials in Venezuela in an effort to convince the country to produce more oil. Meanwhile, Biden has announced an embargo of Russian oil and natural gas, attempting to “[target] the main artery of Russia’s economy.”