A U.S. Democratic senator who’s been a thorn in the side of the Biden administration on economic and energy policies visited Alberta’s oilsands April 11 and 12.
“Great to welcome Senate Energy Committee Chair Joe Manchin to Alberta for a two-day visit highlighting the critical role we play in North American energy security,” wrote Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on Twitter on April 11.
“Today we’re showing him the oilsands, home of the world’s 3rd largest proven oil reserves.”
The visit from the West Virginia senator comes as inflation continues to climb in the United States and at a time when countries are reassessing energy policies and dilemmas in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The U.S. Consumer Price Index reached an 8.5 percent increase year-over-year in March, the highest since 1981, driven in part by higher fuel prices.
And countries opposed to Russia but still purchasing large amounts of its hydrocarbons are looking at ways to reduce their consumption or dependency on Russian oil products to further weaken President Vladimir Putin.
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, gets half its gas from Russia, and the United States imported nearly 700,000 barrels per day of crude oil and refined petroleum products from Russia in 2021.
The White House banned imports of Russian oil, liquified natural gas, and coal on March 8 as part of sanctions against the Kremlin.
Kenney and the federal Conservatives have been making a push since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24 to have Canada fill the void in replacing Russian hydrocarbons.
“Alberta oil is better than dictator oil,” Kenney tweeted on Feb. 24.
Last November, he said the administration’s release of 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve was “an important policy Band-Aid for rising gas prices but does not solve for the self-inflicted wound that shortsighted energy policy is having on our nation.”
“I continue to call on President Biden to responsibly increase energy production here at home and to reverse course to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built,” he said.
More recently, Manchin wrote a letter to Biden on March 31 asking him to increase domestic oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico to provide relief to Americans from the rising fuel prices.
The same day, Biden announced the release of 1 million barrels per day for six months from the strategic reserve.
Manchin has been at odds with the administration on more than energy, refusing to provide his support for the $2 trillion social and climate spending Build Back Better bill in late 2021.
The Canadian government lobbied against clauses in the bill around tax credits for electric vehicles that would negatively impact the country’s automotive sector.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about Manchin’s visit to Alberta after an announcement he made on tax cuts for small businesses in Edmonton on April 12.
“I think we all know that with current pressures going on and the conflict in Ukraine and the desire to turn away from Russian oil and gas, there is an opportunity in the short term for Canadians and producers around the world to be responsive to that,” Trudeau said.
“But the other thing that Europe and places around the world are seeing is this is also an opportunity to go even faster in reducing our emissions, in transforming our energy mix, and Canada has long been moving towards that.”