The exigencies of war can lead to unexpected consequences. We are seeing this truth play out as Ukraine fights for its survival against Russian aggression.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a world leader who belongs to a political party on the left called for building a stockpile of coal and natural gas as well as the rapid construction of two liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals to import more of it.
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 pipeline directly between the two countries, a project that would only increase this dependence.
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 budgeting to heat their homes and fill their gas tanks and for meeting 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 it, too. I hope President Biden will follow suit.
While the United States does not depend on Russian energy imports to the same extent as Europe, our country still buys significant quantities of its oil and petroleum products – approximately 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 purchasing their products funds the war machine now devastating Ukraine.
Further, the United States enjoys advantages Europe does not. Our country leads the world in oil and natural gas production. We possess vast reserves of these fuels and coal as well. Our country can use it, and so can our friends, as Germany’s decision after Russia’s invasion to rapidly construct the new LNG terminals shows.
The current problem lies in turning these natural advantages to our benefit as a world power. President Biden has shown no interest in using our energy resources to bolster American standing and support friendly countries; in fact, his actions in office so far have undercut that purpose.
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 American refineries. Incredibly, he later lifted restrictions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russian energy somehow warranted more lenient treatment in the President’s eyes than a Canadian-American project.
The Administration followed up on these tremendous errors by imposing a moratorium on oil and natural gas projects on federal land, delaying or denying permits, and preparing burdensome new regulations.
Even now, with Russian aggression not just a threat but reality, the Biden Administration wavers. It has subjected the Russian economy to financial sanctions but exempts energy, its most crucial industry.
To force the Administration’s hand, I am an original cosponsor of the American Energy Independence from Russia Act to boost our domestic production. House Democrats have already blocked one attempt to advance it. President Biden, however, still has the power to follow Germany’s leaders and recognize that circumstances in Eastern Europe urgently demand a new course.
That course should be a reset of American energy policy. The sleeping giant of domestic energy production should be awakened.
This is not what Putin wants or expects, but when wars break out, they can have far reaching and unintended effects. Our fight 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 war in Ukraine, while less dramatic, could be revolutionary and would send a strong message not only to Russia but also to China and the world.
A return to American energy dominance would reduce prices, create jobs, and give us leverage to counter the designs of current and future tyrants abroad.
– Congressman H. Morgan Griffith