Republican bill aims to deter NATO members from using Russian pipeline

Republican bill aims to deter NATO members from using Russian pipeline
© Greg Nash

A Republican-backed bill introduced Wednesday in the Senate would impose sanctions on entities involved in a controversial Russian natural gas pipeline, part of an effort to deter NATO countries from participating in the proposed project.

The largely ceremonial bill, introduced by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump boxed in on trade Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Mike Enzi announces he'll retire from Senate after 2020 MORE (R-Wyo.), aims to "improve energy security" for NATO members by imposing sanctions on Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline — a planned natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

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he pipeline was criticized by President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE during his meetings with leaders of NATO member countries in Brussels last week.

In addition to the proposed sanctions, the legislation looks to ease restrictions on transatlantic exports and imports of U.S. natural gas for NATO members, with the goal of encouraging NATO countries to import gas from countries within the organization.

The bill would allow U.S. gas exports to NATO countries to receive expedited approval by the Department of Energy by classifying the exports as furthering U.S. national security interests.

"It is the sense of Congress that United States and other NATO member countries should explore ways to ensure that NATO member countries diversify their energy supplies and routes in order to enhance their energy security, including through the development of a transatlantic energy strategy," the bill reads.

Barrrasso in a statement Wednesday said Russian President Vladimir Putin uses his country's natural gas to "extort and threaten" U.S. allies.

The legislation “will take this geopolitical weapon away from Russia by sanctioning the Nord Stream II gas pipeline and facilitating the export of more American natural gas to our allies," Barrasso said. "With an abundance of natural gas in the United States, it’s time we use American energy resources to give our allies lasting and dependable energy security.”

Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat MORE (R-Colo.) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesRepublicans spend more than million at Trump properties Bullock: Running for Senate 'never really got me excited' Liberian immigrant among Dems planning challenges to GOP senator in Montana MORE (R-Mont.) are co-sponsors of the bill.

The proposed pipeline has split European countries. While it would help facilitate the transport of liquified natural gas (LNG) to states in need, critics say it will increase the continent's dependence on Russia and could add to security threats.

Germany received between 50 percent and 75 percent of its LNG last year from Russia, and it is a proponent of the pipeline.

Trump blasted the planned pipeline on Twitter during his visit to Brussels last week for the NATO summit, saying: "What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025."