SALT LAKE CITY — Now that Russian oil and gas is banned from the United States, energy experts here in Utah believe the state can step up to help fill the void.
“We need to be able to send a message to the market that America is open for business,” said Thom Carter, energy advisor to Governor Spencer Cox.
Carter said Utahns should expect to see a rise in gas prices following President Joe Biden’s announcement. He said for the sake of lower-income families living paycheck to paycheck, the high costs can’t last long.
“We want to ensure that energy as an enabler, that makes our modern life possible, does not leave people behind. This is what makes us so worried about what’s happening right now,” he said.
Governor Cox sent Biden a letter Monday, asking the president to eliminate barriers so states like Utah can ramp up domestic oil production.
The administration’s war on American energy and minerals is bad for Americans, bad for Europe and Ukraine and bad for the environment. My letter to President Biden: pic.twitter.com/ENhjZHuhhA— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) March 8, 2022
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Utah’s five oil refineries can process nearly 200,000 barrels of crude oil a day. It also lists Utah as ninth in the country for crude oil production.
“We won’t be heavily reliant on Russia, other bad actors, Venezuela, Iran,” said Carter.
In a statement sent to FOX 13 News, the Utah Petroleum Association wrote: “If the U.S. is serious about quickly increasing production, this administration would need to expedite permitting decisions and leases.”
Non-profit organization Utah Clean Energy said there’s already enough oil coming out of Utah. Founder Sarah Wright said Utah should dive deeper into renewable energy.
“The sun and the wind cannot be owned by any one country or controlled by any one country,” said Wright. “So switching, really focusing on our future and transitioning to renewable energy and storage and electrified transportation, those are the things that are going to provide long-term security to the United States.”
Rep. Blake Moore, who represents Utah's First District in Congress, said he believes the red tape should be removed so Utah can start producing more oil, but he also said this is an opportunity for the state to pursue all avenues to produce oil and energy.
“If we embrace our American independence of this, we can use that as a way to diversity to more renewable options, too, going forward instead of having to rely on bad actors,” Moore said.