As President Biden is set for his first State of the Union address, the specter of the Russian-Ukrainian war looms over Europe. While Biden has talked tough against Russia, and has carried out a number of damaging sanctions, the president is yet to hit the Russians where it really hurts — its oil & gas industry.
On Tuesday, 220 House Democrats blocked consideration of the American Energy Independence from Russia Act (H.R. 6858). According to House Republicans, the bill is intended to promote energy independence by doing the following:
- Immediately approves the Keystone XL pipeline
- Removes all restrictions on liquified natural gas (LNG) exports
- Restarts oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters – which was halted by the Biden administration
- Protects American energy and mineral development from attacks by the Biden administration
- Requires Biden to submit an energy security plan within 30 days and requires the Secretary of Energy to develop a plan to replace oil drawn down from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
The American Energy Independence from Russia act was offered by House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who spoke on its behalf:
“Putin uses energy and pipelines as weapons, threatening to cut off supplies or hike prices when the West confronts Russia’s aggression,” McMorris Rodgers argued. “Russia’s energy exports fund its military and its current attack on Ukraine… America, not Russia, is the world’s number one energy producer. We should act like it and lead. President Biden must restore American energy dominance and use energy resources to help Ukraine and Europe fight back.”
“We shouldn’t be buying a single barrel of oil from Russia and our allies shouldn’t be beholden to aggressors that attack their freedom,” she continued. “Europe should have the choice to buy American LNG and say ‘No’ to Russia’s pipelines and Nord Stream 2.”
“We need more pipelines, including Keystone XL,” she added. “So this bill immediately approves Keystone XL pipeline so that we can import crude oil from Canada, not Russia.”
“It also removes all restrictions on U.S. LNG exports to deliver natural gas to our allies in Europe and it restarts oil and gas leasing on our federal lands and offshore waters.
“This is how we shut down Putin’s war chest, stand by Ukraine, empower our allies, protect our national security, and create jobs here at home,” she argued.
The Democratic Party, however, is having none of it. On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki argued that the United States should not be increasing production to reduce dependence on foreign oil, but it should instead be turning to more renewable energy.
“We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, on oil in general, and we need to look at other ways of having energy in our country and others,” Psaki said during an interview with ABC This Week Sunday. “We’ve seen over the last week or so… a number of European countries are recognizing they need to reduce their own reliance on Russian oil.”
The president will undoubtedly be talking tough about countering Russian aggression in Europe at the State of the Union. But know this: Biden is leaving one of the most powerful tools in his arsenal on the table — American energy independence. The question is: Why?
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.