The real way to support Ukraine is to flip the switch and restore domestic oil production
During his State of the Union Address, President Biden correctly asserted that the entire civilized world is united against Vladimir Putin’s escalating aggression. We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and support their brave defense of their country. We all agree Putin must be held accountable for this most recent attack and his reckless rhetoric regarding his willingness to consider nuclear options. One of the best ways for the U.S. to apply pressure while promoting peace is to unleash American energy production.
Consider these important facts: In 2019, the U.S. became a net energy exporter for the first time since 1952, signaling an end to reliance on our adversaries for energy needs. Today, American energy production has grinded to a halt, and Russian crude oil and petroleum product imports to the U.S. reached an 11-year high in 2021, totaling $17.5 billion. On average, we import approximately 200,000 barrels per day of crude oil and 500,000 barrels per day of other petroleum products from Russia. This represents 8 percent of all total U.S. imports. We can no longer justify sending more money to Putin’s war coffers when we have a viable alternative.
Since gaining complete control of the White House and Congress, Democrats have waged war on U.S. energy production, citing radical and unattainable environmental goals that only serve to hurt American consumers, our energy independence, and endanger our national security. Specific policy decisions have made us more reliant on foreign adversaries while having miniscule global environmental benefit. For example, on his first day in office, President Biden destroyed 11,000 American jobs by canceling the Keystone Pipeline. He also paused new domestic oil and gas leases, which will cost 1 million American jobs and decrease GDP by $700 billion. Additionally, the Biden administration withdrew American support for the Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline, which is a vital project that will help our European allies end their dependence on Russia’s oil supply. In its reversal of support, the administration cited environmental concerns. This is particularly hypocritical given the fact that it withdrew any U.S. objection to the Russian Nordstrom 2 pipeline just a few months earlier.
All Americans are suffering the consequences of these poor decisions. Current gas prices are already at an eight-year high, with oil prices skyrocketing to over $100 per barrel. We have seen a 50 percent increase in energy prices since President Biden took office, and the Russian war in Ukraine will only cause these prices to climb.
Instead of flipping the switch and saying yes to American energy, the president is inexplicably doubling down on failed strategies. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed even more stringent regulations for methane emissions on existing oil and gas wells. Also under Biden’s tenure, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has failed to approve new natural gas pipeline applications, leading to a backlog of pending applications that discourages economic growth and new energy development. FERC’s recent changes to its certificate policy statement governing interstate natural gas pipeline reviews will exacerbate the backlog and make it harder to build America’s pipeline infrastructure. These new rules will only further halt domestic energy production and prolong pain for consumers. Enough is enough!
The president’s plan of tapping into the strategic oil reserve is a short-term “fix” that will deplete our emergency supply in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis. We need to readjust our entire thinking with the understanding that energy security is national security. Thus, the catastrophic path Biden has set us on must be reversed. Last week, my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee filed the American Energy Independence from Russia Act. Sadly, my Democrat colleagues all voted against bringing this measure up for a vote this week. Our critical legislation would require the president to unleash America’s oil and natural gas production to offset Russian imports. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires President Biden to submit an energy security plan to Congress within 30 days to evaluate U.S. oil and natural gas imports, identify importing countries that pose an energy security risk to America, and encourage domestic production of oil and natural gas to offset imports from Russia;
- Requires the Secretary of Energy to develop a plan to increase oil and gas production on Federal lands to replace oil drawn down from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve;
- Immediately approve the Keystone XL pipeline to create thousands of American jobs and deliver an additional 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil to U.S. refineries;
- Unleash U.S. LNG exports to boost U.S. natural gas production and displace Russian gas in the European market;
- Unlock America’s energy potential by requiring leasing and permitting of energy and minerals development on Federal lands and waters; and,
- Protect domestic oil and gas, mining, and critical minerals production
We all want to be good stewards of our environment but implementing policies that ignore the world’s worst polluters at the peril of American consumers is not the way to achieve this goal — especially not at a time when doing so helps prop up Putin’s violent efforts to restructure world order. New and emerging technologies will allow the U.S. to better harness the existing swath of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources that are available to achieve environmental goals without hurting consumers or disadvantaging American companies on the global stage.
President Biden said something else during his State of the Union Address that I strongly agree with; we can and must be willing to buy products that are made in America. Why would this mindset not also extend to our energy production? Doing so will help American consumers get relief at the pump, while sending the strongest possible message to Putin and our other adversaries that the U.S. is serious about defending Ukraine and holding Russia accountable for its hostile intransigence. We simply should not be filling Putin’s war chest when we can produce energy here in the U.S.
Gus Bilirakis represents the 12th District of Florida.