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Energy Independence is National Security

By Matt Patterson, March 10, 2022

Energy independence is crucial to both national and economic security. In the United States, conservatives and more moderate liberals understand this. In Europe, several countries are beginning to understand this as well. On February 27th, Reuters reported that Germany will build two liquified natural gas terminals and increase its natural gas reserves. This is a critical move, as “Europe’s top economy has been under pressure from other Western nations to become less dependent on Russian gas, but its plans to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030 and to shut its nuclear power plants by end-2022 have left it with few options.”[i] Currently, Russian gas accounts for half of Germany’s energy needs, which led to initial trepidation from the country when imposing sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.[ii] Realizing the potential of losing critical energy supply, however, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made it clear that Germany needs to find a path that leads to an alternative energy supply:

The events of the past few days have shown us that responsible, forward-looking energy policy is decisive not only for our economy and the environment. It is also decisive for our security. We must change course to overcome our dependence on imports from individual energy suppliers.[iii]

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted many of the shortfalls of a global push to transition away from fossil fuels. Several nations have shut down natural gas terminals, coal plants, and nuclear facilities to reduce emissions by an arbitrary date.[iv] The problem? Renewable energy is not yet reliable enough to supply and sustain rising demand. To keep the lights on, nations are forced to buy energy from authoritarian regimes, making geopolitical conflicts more difficult for them to navigate. The United States is not innocent in this regard.[v] The current administration suspended drilling on public lands and ended critical energy infrastructure projects, forcing the president to plead with OPEC to release more fuel and tap into our own nation’s reserves.[vi]

Fortunately, there is a bipartisan push to repeal these regressive measures and ensure that the United States can work its way toward energy independence from Russia (even after the conflict in Ukraine began, the U.S. was buying over 600,000 barrels of Russian oil a day).[vii] Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has called upon the administration to take action:

The United States can and must ramp up domestic energy production and increase access to our abundant resources and technologies to both protect our energy independence and support our allies around the globe. If there was ever a time to be energy independent, it is now. I am calling on the Administration and industry partners to take action immediately, up to and including banning crude oil imports from Russia.[viii]

It appears, however, that the Biden Administration is still unwilling to encourage an increase in domestic energy production, even after banning the purchase of Russian oil. When announcing sanctions on Russia, President Biden told Americans to “have patience,” warning that Americans could feel some “economic pain.”[ix] White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on calls to lift oil and gas restrictions, calling them “misguided.”[x] To top it off, the Biden Administration has reached out to Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia to replace the Russian oil void (Saudi Arabia, apparently, declined to pick up the phone).[xi] The Administration seems to favor Tehran over Texas when it comes to energy production.[xii]

The idea that Americans simply need to “be patient” with rising prices at the gas pump is misguided. After severing ties with Russian energy, the U.S. has the ability to ramp up domestic production and become an even larger exporter of energy to Europe in the process. Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) has launched a petition to revoke the president’s moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands and his decision to stop the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.[xiii] Revocation of these actions would be a great first step toward increased energy production. Additionally, removing barriers to shipping and transporting oil domestically would reduce the need for reliance on foreign energy imports. Repealing the Jones Act, which requires ships going from U.S. port to another U.S. port be built, owned, and crewed by U.S. citizens, would make it easier for oil from the Gulf Coast to make its way to the Northeastern U.S. As Kevin Williamson of National Review points out, “Repealing the Jones Act entirely would be a good policy move irrespective of the situation with Russia.”[xiv]

If gas prices continue to increase (and there is little evidence to suggest they won’t), the voices pushing for an overhaul of “green” policies and restrictions on oil and gas will only become louder. Of course, it would be better for Americans if the federal government were able to see the writing on the wall before things become worse. There is an opportunity for the U.S. to change course and face the reality that the price of limiting our energy production is too high and to shift the focus to energy policies that aren’t rooted in politics, but pragmatism. Leaders from both sides of the aisle are ready to act. The Biden Administration would be misguided not to.

[i] [ii] Ibid. [iii] Ibid. [iv] [v] [vi] [vii] Ibid. [viii] [ix] [x] [xi] [xii] [xiii] [xiv]


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