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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated that energy independence is vital for national security, experts say, as European nations rely on Russian oil, a dependency that undermines the impact of the sanctions against the aggressor nation.
Although the U.S. relied much less on Russian oil (before President Biden nixed imports), America seems unable to replace Russia’s role in Europe, which weakens its ability to help allies squeeze Russia. Energy experts emphasized the importance of U.S. energy independence and laid out a strategy to achieve it in comments to Fox News Digital.
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“America’s economic sanctions are limited by those of its allies (Europe, India and others) who are hooked on Russian gas,” Steve Milloy, a former Trump-Pence EPA transition member and founder of JunkScience.com, told Fox News Digital. “This dependence is unnecessary as Europe, for example, has plenty of coal and natural gas – Europe has the same fracking potential as the US – as well as nuclear power.”
Milloy warned that “the green agenda – anti-fossil fuels and anti-nuclear – made Europe dependent on Putin. Worse, it empowered him and financed the Ukraine invasion.”
“America itself has essentially an unlimited supply of energy – a basic requirement for a robust economy and national security – and so could and should be insulated from those who would use energy as geopolitical weapon,” he argued.
Joel Griffith, a financial regulations research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, noted that in 2021, the U.S. became a net exporter of petroleum products for the first time since 1949, a result of “pro-energy policies implemented despite opposition from the political Left.”
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“Thanks to this newfound independence, our nation’s energy exports are helping to mitigate the danger posed by the dependency of European allies on Russian energy supplies,” Griffith noted.
Yet Europe’s dependence on Russia may be a cautionary tale for the U.S., he warned.
“European dependency on energy from Russia is self-imposed, as leaders across the European Union shutter nuclear power plants, impose renewable energy mandates, and attempt to effectively ban some forms of fossil fuel production,” Griffith noted.
He attributed surging oil and gas prices to the reverberations of the COVID-19 shutdowns, but also to President Biden’s policies. “The Biden Administration has proposed or finalized regulations that restrict nearly every aspect of conventional energy: financing and private-sector investment, exploration and production, pipeline construction and operation, and consumer use.”
“The administration is committing the US to energy policies like Europe did years ago and which have left them paying even higher prices and with few alternatives to Russian oil, putting him in direct conflict with the well-being of Americans,” Griffith warned. “President Biden needs to embrace energy freedom and unleash the American energy sector—for the benefit of America and of the world.”
How should America pursue energy independence? Greg Wrightstone, executive director of The CO2 Coalition, laid out a six-step plan.
“With respect to domestic energy development, the best thing government could do is get out of the way and allow American energy to blossom,” Wrightstone told Fox News Digital. “The renewal of American energy independence is achievable by freeing up the American energy sector to do what they do best: produce.”
He recommended six concrete steps:
- Greenlight the completion of pipelines including the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring more than 800,000 barrels per day into the United States.
- Rein in the EPA’s overregulation of the fossil fuel industry.
- Repeal the ban on leasing of federal lands, including the Gulf of Mexico that provides 10% of American oil production.
- Approve development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- Approve development of the National Petroleum Reserve.
- Employ the Defense Production Act to complete stalled pipelines, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia.
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Milloy also emphasized unleashing American energy from burdensome regulations.
“US energy resources are essentially infinite – from coal to oil/gas to nuclear to hydro to wind/solar, etc. (‘all of the above’),” he argued. “But activists use every tool in the book to stop every sort of energy related development – through junk science, fearmongering, overregulation, lawsuits, protests and more.”
He noted that green technologies require rare earth minerals (minerals that are abundant on Earth’s crust but require extensive extraction), a market China dominates. The U.S. was “self-sufficient” in rare earths, and even produced over half the global supply of them until the 1980s, but between 2014 and 2017, the U.S. imported 80 percent of its supply from China.
“No one knows what the actual US potential is because it is difficult to mine them here because of regulation and opposition,” Milloy noted.
Milloy also argued that America’s extensive permitting process” and “enforced environmental regulation” would make U.S. mining for rare earth minerals “much cleaner than China” – and the process would not involve any “child slave labor” as mines in Congo allegedly use.
Democrats and environmental advocates have claimed that higher gas prices represent an opportunity for Americans to transition to alternative fuel sources such as wind and solar. They have repeatedly warned that the continued use of fossil fuels will exacerbate climate change.
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“We know that the majority of people in the U.S. want to see the government take action on climate and invest in clean energy technology,” Matthew Davis, League of Conservation Voters’ senior director of government affairs, told Fox News Digital.
President Biden has blamed high gas prices on Putin’s invasion and on gas companies, claims which industry leaders have contested.