The United States imports nearly 600,000 barrels of oil a day from Russia—an amount that could have been made up for by the more than 800,000 barrels of oil the Keystone XL pipeline is capable of delivering each day if the Biden administration hadn’t stood in the way. As Vladimir Putin conducts his evil and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, now more than ever, we must cut off our energy dependence on Russia while turning up our energy production here at home.
Over the last decade and half, hard work and strategic policies set the United States on the course to energy independence. The shale oil and gas revolution led to the creation of tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, lower energy costs for Americans, and eliminated a key leverage point previously held by adversarial countries.
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to block the Keystone XL pipeline. With the stroke of a pen, he wiped out thousands of jobs and set the tone for how his administration would approach the U.S. energy industry. The president even doubled down on this strategy by banning new oil and gas development on public land.
And in May of last year—despite his own administration’s report that the company behind Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline had engaged in activity meriting sanctions—Biden gifted Putin even greater leverage by waiving off sanctions. Simultaneously blocking the U.S. pipeline and green-lighting Russia’s pipeline sent the message that American security would be sacrificed in order to appease European leaders and environmental extremists.
After much delay, and in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has finally relented and took steps in the right direction on financial sanctions. Now, we must keep up the pressure on Putin by eliminating reliance on Russian energy.
Our current situation follows years of warning from Republicans in Congress about the consequences of strengthening Russia’s position in the global energy market. Not only have some of our most powerful European allies become untenably beholden to Russia for oil, but so has the United States.
One of the greatest tragedies is that this situation was avoidable if we had just looked at the evidence before us. Two years of a pandemic-driven supply chain crisis, chip shortages, and an inability to supply frontline workers personal protective equipment showed that relying on adversaries for critical goods and infrastructure is a bad idea.
Dependence on China squeezed Americans during a time of crisis, and now the West’s reliance on Russian energy will squeeze Americans amid an inflation crisis that is already setting new records. Gas prices skyrocketed by almost 60 percent last year, the largest increase in over 40 years. Rising household heating bills have forced millions of Americans, more than 20 percent, to sacrifice food or medicine in the past year to stay warm. These policy failures have real and immediate consequences for every American, but for the single moms or workers living paycheck-to-paycheck it can be life-altering.
Vladimir Putin and other strongmen have watched for decades as the Western world has grown more and more obsessed with the issue of climate change, at the expense of virtually all other national interests. There’s no question the Earth is warming, and we should have a common sense plan to address it that is proportionate to our nation’s emissions relative to the rest of the world. Or, put more plainly, the U.S. should not be footing the majority of the bill for a tab run up by chronic big-time polluters like China.
The problem is Democrats have abandoned common sense. We got the first taste of this administration’s radical environmental agenda when President Biden announced last summer that global warming was our country’s biggest national security threat. And on the day Russia began his invasion of Ukraine, former Secretary of State and Biden’s climate czar John Kerry said that the climate implications of Putin’s invasion were just as important as the Ukrainians losing their lives in the fight to protect their national sovereignty.
The shocking comments betrayed the new ideological radicalism that’s become mainstream on the Left. It’s a strategy that helps Putin and hurts Americans. Rather than provide a layer of insulation from rising costs, every person filling up their gas tank or paying their electric bill will feel the pain of crushing American energy independence.
The crisis is in Ukraine, but it’s also here at home and growing. I urge President Biden to heed common sense and put America back on the path to energy security.