The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered an unprecedented wave of insecurity in world energy markets. This month, concerns from European leaders that Russia would permanently turn off the flow of natural gas from its Nord Stream 1 pipeline – which covers approximately 40 percent of the EU’s natural gas imports – could have wreaked havoc on an already struggling region.
The Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom increased production briefly; fears of further reductions remain as Moscow appears to be using its energy capacity for leverage against Western European countries who have grown reliant on Russian fuels.
The current state of affairs exposes Europe’s significant dependence on Russian fossil fuels and Moscow’s ability to hold the markets hostage. And with tensions over energy security already high, we can likely expect the geopolitical situation to continue to remain precarious.
US Energy Resources
The current crisis should be a wake-up call to US leadership. While it is important to implement sanctions on Russian energy as a consequence of its actions, the turmoil it has created in global energy markets is far from over.
Now is the time for the Biden administration to leverage the development of domestic energy resources to fortify our national security.
Unfortunately, this administration’s decisions on energy policy to date have created uncertainty around the future of oil and natural gas development in US that both we and our allies cannot afford right now.
We need to reduce our dependence on oil altogether.
We need to choose long-term energy security over energy and climate vulnerability.
And we can do that by passing my plan to speed the transition to a clean energy future that is made in America with American values.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 31, 2022
We need companies operating in the US to make long-term, capital-intensive investments in production and infrastructure, but comments from the White House, agency leads, and advisors have sent a chilling message: “new investments might not be worth your while.”
Signals like canceling key transportation infrastructure development, pausing federal leasing, and piling on new regulatory hurdles will only encourage our adversaries to take more control over global energy markets.
Energy as Foreign Policy Tool
American national security benefitted from the massive influx of domestic energy production that resulted from the shale boom in the early 2010s, as our country became significantly less reliant on foreign fuel sources.
In fact, American oil production increased from 2010 to 2019, and we became a net energy exporter. American allies could trust that reliable American energy would replace a portion of supplies from adversarial nations that presently dominate global markets, like Saudi Arabia, China, and Russia.
US energy is an important foreign policy tool that can help insulate American markets from global energy shocks and undermine hostile actors, like the Putin regime which is clearly using its energy resources as a weapon.
Unfortunately, instead of finding realistic answers to our energy challenges, Washington continues to look for energy solutions in the wrong places. For example, Joe Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia last month, where energy was on the agenda.
Following the meeting, the White House said it anticipates major oil producers in OPEC+ to increase crude production. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Tehran for a summit with Iran — a nation familiar with finding buyers willing to deal with sanctioned nations (such as India and China).
Keeping America Safe
Why are we subjecting our nation to the economic whims of OPEC+ and waiting for our enemies to find ways around sanctions and continue to make profits? Because this administration is letting climate politics trump policies that are important to keeping America safe in the long run.
By unnecessarily forcing America to return to a level of dependency on others for its energy needs, it puts our security at risk.
Additionally, it is important to note that addressing our energy crisis and combating climate change is not a zero-sum game. Supporting policies that will help bolster US supplies does not mean this administration has given up on its climate policy goals.
Pitting energy sources against each other will not change the fact that energy demand is rising. We will need all energy sources, not false choices.
America’s national security demands a more coherent policy strategy from this administration when it comes to energy development. We should be focused on putting policies in place that advance American energy production rather than looking for quick fixes with foreign rivals.
It is important that this administration doesn’t overlook important policy choices that help move markets in a positive way and strengthen our national security.
Major General Bob Dees, US Army, Retired, has a breadth of national security expertise, including the development of high technology weapons and communications systems.
He is President of Resilience Consulting LLC, promoting individual, leader, and national resilience best practices.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Defense Post.
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