Our first subject today, a U.S. ban on Russian energy.
Until now, the international sanctions, the penalties on Russia's economy for its invasion of Ukraine have not included a ban on buying Russian coal, natural gas or oil.
Russia is one of the world's biggest producers of these commodities, selling them is a crucial component of the nation's economy.
And America has continued to buy Russian oil after the country attacked Ukraine on February 24th.
Critics have said by doing that, the U.S. government has helped Russia pay for the war.
And American Republicans and Democrats have pressured the Biden administration to stop importing Russian energy commodities.
The decision announced by President Joe Biden yesterday does not apply to Europe.
Nations there are more reliant on Russian energy than America is and they're already struggling with record high prices for gas and heat.
But the U.S. did take another step on its own yesterday to increase the strain on the Russian economy.
Today, I'm announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia's economy.
We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy.
That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin's war machine.
This is a step that we're taking to inflict further pain on Putin, but there will be cost as well here in the United States.
Defending freedom is going to cost.
It's going to cost us as well.
So what did the president mean by that?
Last year, the U.S. imported about 8 percent of its energy from Russia, 3 was in crude oil alone.
It's not a huge amount.
But because the price of crude oil is the single biggest factor in the cost of gasoline, further increases in U.S. gas prices are expected.
As we reported last fall, rising gas prices were already a problem in America before Russia invaded Ukraine.
As demand for goods increased during the COVID pandemic, so did the demand for energy to transport those goods.
The temporary closure of some coal mines in China impacted global energy prices.
The recent decision by some oil producing countries to increase their output gradually instead of rapidly contributed to oil price rises.
And Republicans have said the Biden administration's limits on oil and gas production in the United States have made oil more expensive there.
The White House says it's authorized the release of tens of millions of barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve.
It's hopeful that'll help ease prices.
And it's recently held talks with Venezuela, an ally of Russia and rival of the United States, to possibly resume U.S. oil purchases from the South American country.
Meantime, gasoline prices have hit a record high in the U.S.
Tuesday's national average was $4.17 per gallon, but the state of California has the nation's highest prices.