Biden Administration & Russian Oil Imports: PolitiFact’s Contortion

Biden Administration & Russian Oil Imports: PolitiFact’s Contortion

A view of an oil treatment plant in the Yarakta Oil Field in Irkutsk Region, Russia March 10, 2019. (Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters)

“The U.S. did not double oil imports from Russia in the last year” reads a PolitiFact fact check of Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, which determined her claim was “mostly false” before conceding its accuracy.

In an appearance on Jesse Waters Primetime, Bartiromo stated that “the United States is also reliant on Russian oil. We’ve doubled our imports from Russia in the last year.” PolitiFact’s Yacob Reyes took issue with that assertion.

In a short, two-step summary topper of his article, Reyes writes that “the most recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that the U.S. increased its oil imports from Russia by about 28% in the first 11 months of 2021,” and that  “the U.S. did double the amount of crude oil imported from Russia last year.”

“But,” he protests, “Russia accounts for only about 3% of overall U.S. crude oil imports in 2021.”

It seems fairly obvious, then, that Bartiromo was referring to crude oil imports, specifically rather than total oil imports both crude and refined. It takes Reyes until paragraph ten of the body of his piece to cite the statistics Bartiromo’s claim was predicated on; the U.S. imported 208,000 barrels of Russian crude oil a day in the first eleven months of 2021, a more than 100 percent increase over the 76,000 barrels a day it averaged over the course of 2020.

Even this, however, is minimized by Reyes, who takes issue with Bartiromo’s argument that this constitutes increased reliance on Russian oil. “Russia accounted for about 3 percent of overall U.S. crude oil imports in 2021,”  he says, supposedly in contravention of Bartiromo. But that makes Russia the U.S.’s second largest supplier of foreign oil, as Reyes is forced to acknowledge.

“But it’s still a small number, and it’s irrelevant because it’s a global marketplace,” argues Reyes through Mark Finely, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute.

That doesn’t seem to comport with the Biden administration’s sense of things, however. The president has said that “defending freedom will have costs for us as well, and here at home,” and expressed his intention “to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a similar warning, responding to a question about rising gasoline prices resulting from sanctions placed on Russia by saying “yeah, energy prices, exactly that’s what we want the American public to be aware is a possibility.”

On Tuesday, the Biden administration even decided to release 30 million barrels of oil from the U.S.’s strategic petroleum reserve, which is meant to provide for emergencies. An additional combined 30 million will be released by other countries.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

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[By: Isaac Schorr

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