Biden’s Russian Oil Ban Executive Order Appears to Exempt U.S. Federal Government, Agencies, Contractors

Craig Bannister | March 17, 2022 | 1:21pm EDT
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Pres. Joe Biden
(Getty Images/Mandel Ngan)

President Joe Biden’s executive order prohibiting the importation of Russian oil, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, appears to exempt the U.S. federal government, its agencies and its contractors from the ban.

Under Section 1. (a)  of Biden’s executive order, “the following are prohibited”:

“the importation into the United States of the following products of Russian Federation origin:  crude oil; petroleum; petroleum fuels, oils, and products of their distillation; liquefied natural gas; coal; and coal product;”

“new investment in the energy sector in the Russian Federation by a United States person, wherever located;”

But, Sec. 3 says that “nothing in this order shall prohibit” the federal government from transactions buying oil and other energy products from Russia:

“Sec. 3.  Nothing in this order shall prohibit transactions for the conduct of the official business of the Federal Government or the United Nations (including its specialized agencies, programs, funds, and related organizations) by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof.”


Section 6. (a) appears to reinforce the exemption of U.S. executive agencies and departments from Biden’s executive order:

“Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect: (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof”…


Both a senior Republican senator's aide and an international trade expert independently confirmed to on background that, taken literally, the two passages exempt the federal government and the other groups mentioned from the ban on importing Russian oil.

“I am not surprised. The government carves out this sort of ‘Regulations for thee, but not for me’ exemption for itself and its helpers all the time,” former Trump Administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team member Steve Milloy told “But, this seems like it could be something more insidious,” Milloy, who founded and publishes, added.

“It’s pretty typical of the federal government: it puts constraints and requirements on American citizens and businesses while hypocritically not holding itself to those same standards,“ Western Energy Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma agreed. "But it still is disappointing.“

Regardless of whether the two passages were intentionally, or accidentally, included in the executive order, they still seem to, literally and in effect, exempt the federal government from being banned from doing the very thing that American companies and citizens are prohibited from doing.

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