American energy can counter Vladimir Putin


The demands of war can have unintended consequences. We see this truth manifest as Ukraine struggles for survival in the face of Russian aggression.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a world leader belonging to a left-wing political party called for the stockpiling of coal and natural gas as well as the rapid construction of two liquefied natural gas terminals ( LNG) to import more.

Unfortunately, that leader is not President Biden but German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. But President Biden can learn from the latter’s example.

Like much of Europe, Germany depends on Russian natural gas, and it was reluctant to jeopardize economic ties before war broke out. It continued to support the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline directly between the two countries, a project that would only increase this dependency.

Once Vladimir Putin unleashed war in Europe, Germany finally recognized the danger of its reliance on Russian imports to meet its energy needs.

For families who have a budget to heat their homes and fill their gas tanks and to meet the demands of our economy, energy policy is important. The geopolitical importance of energy policy must also be appreciated: energy equals power on the world stage.

Vladimir Putin knows this, and Chancellor Scholz has come to recognize this as well. I hope President Biden follows.

While the United States does not depend on Russian energy imports to the same extent as Europe, our country still buys significant amounts of its oil and petroleum products – around 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day in 2021, the highest level in a decade, and 500,000 barrels of other petroleum products per day. Russia’s largest oil and gas companies are state-owned, so buying their products funds the war machine that is currently devastating Ukraine.

In addition, the United States enjoys advantages that Europe does not have. Our country is the world leader in the production of oil and natural gas. We have vast reserves of these fuels as well as coal. Our country can use it, and so can our friends, as shown by Germany’s decision after the Russian invasion to quickly build the new LNG terminals.

The current problem is to turn these natural advantages to our advantage as a world power. President Biden has shown no interest in using our energy resources to strengthen the American position and support friendly countries; in fact, his actions in power so far have undermined that goal.

On the first day of his administration, President Biden shut down the Keystone XL pipeline that would have delivered crude oil from neighboring Canada to U.S. refineries. Incredibly, he then lifted restrictions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Russian energy somehow warranted more lenient treatment in the eyes of the president than a Canada-US project.

The administration followed up on these huge mistakes by imposing a moratorium on oil and gas projects on federal lands, delaying or denying permits, and preparing cumbersome new regulations.

Even now, with Russian aggression not just a threat but a reality, the Biden administration is reluctant. It has subjected the Russian economy to financial sanctions but exempts energy, its most crucial industry.

To force the Administration’s hand, I am one of the original co-sponsors of the US Energy Independence from Russia Act to increase our national production. House Democrats have already blocked an attempt to push it forward. President Biden, however, still has the power to follow German leaders and recognize that circumstances in Eastern Europe urgently require a new course.

This course should be a reset of US energy policy. The sleeping giant of home power generation should be awakened.

This is not what Putin wants or expects, but when wars break out they can have far-reaching and unforeseen effects. Our struggle for independence from Britain contributed to the French Revolution of 1789, an outcome that would likely have surprised the minutemen of Lexington and Concord.

A U-turn by President Biden on energy due to the war in Ukraine, while less dramatic, could be game-changing and would send a strong message not only to Russia but also to China and the world.

A return to US energy dominance would lower prices, create jobs, and give us leverage to counter the designs of current and future tyrants abroad.

– Congressman H. Morgan Griffith


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