Sen. Cassidy calls for 'Operation Warp Speed' for U.S. energy production

Biden faces bipartisan pressure to ban access to Russian oil and gas

Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich details the push from lawmakers to prohibit Russian oil imports.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., is calling for an “Operation Warp Speed” project for U.S. domestic energy production, arguing the United States needs to speed up its energy exports much like how the federal government fast-tracked the development of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. 

“We need an Operation Warp Speed for how we permit energy projects – not just for traditional fuel, but also for nuclear and also for renewables,” Cassidy told Fox News Digital in an interview.

“There’s an urgency to boost domestic supplies because much of the world relies on energy from Russia, which is waging a brutal war against Ukraine. There’s bipartisan support to stop imports of Russian oil into the United States, but Europe relies heavily on Russian energy and can’t easily turn off the spigot without having alternatives ready.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

“They’re going to need to buy gas from somebody besides the Russians, which means we have to increase production, as do others,” Cassidy said. “We need to compress the timeline by which we can approve pipelines, LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facilities, etc, so that we can actually get the gas to them as soon as possible.”

Europe imports 40% of its energy needs from Russia, compared to less than 5% for the United States. 

Cassidy intends to introduce his energy vision “soon,” but the gist is that the United States has to start thinking globally about its energy because it impacts the economy and international security. 

The crisis is “as existential as COVID” for Ukraine and perhaps the world, Cassidy said, just hours before the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine was on fire after getting shelled by Russian forces. 

The United States and Europe have already implemented major sanctions on Russia, which haven’t stopped Vladimir Putin from his ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Now the conversations in Congress have turned to squeezing Russia in the energy sector as another way to stop the war. 

DONETSK, UKRAINE – MARCH 03: Pro-Russian separatist, in uniform without insignia repairs track of armored vehicle in the pro-Russian separatists-controlled Bugas, Donetsk, Ukraine on March 03, 2022. (Photo by Leon Klein/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“If we robbed them of the profits they get from selling oil and gas, then they’re going to be unable to fund their war machine,” Cassidy said. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday she supports banning oil imports from Russia, and West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced bipartisan legislation to ban imports of Russian crude oil with Cassidy’s support. 

But the White House hasn’t signed on over concerns blocking the imports could spike gas prices even more. 

“Our objective and the president’s objective has been to maximize impact on President Putin and Russia while minimizing impact to us and our allies and partners,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., Dec. 20, 2021.
(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo)

“We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy and that would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people,” she added. “And it’s as simple as less supply raises prices, and that is certainly a big factor for the president at this moment.”

The most recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that in December, the U.S. imported 405,000 barrels per day of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia, or almost 5% of all U.S. imports for the month. That’s down from about 800,000 barrels in August.

The largest exporters of energy to the United States are Canada and Mexico. 

Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report. 

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