Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has begun, driven by Vladimir Putin's decades-old desire to rebuild the Soviet Union – the Cold War-era empire I trained to fight against in the 82nd Airborne Division.
I have faced Putin in high-stakes bilateral meetings and know that he can sense weakness. He saw it in President Biden's incompetent Afghanistan exit and in his disastrous energy policies, which empowered Putin and weakened our European allies, all while crushing our own economy.
Now is the time to reverse those failures and restart American energy production to reduce Putin's leverage, bring our jobs back home, and lower energy prices for American families.
Under President Trump, the United States became a net energy exporter for the first time in 75 years. By 2019, the U.S. was exporting 715 trillion – that’s trillion with a "T" – units of gas more than it was importing. Trump's willingness to stand up to the extreme environmental lobby and unleash America's energy dominance helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs in my home state of Pennsylvania. That energy boom brought tens of billions of dollars to the Keystone State and helped it become one of the world's top producers of affordable, reliable and clean natural gas.
Trump’s energy policies not only made the United States richer but also made our European allies stronger. Putin wants to make our allies hostage to Russian energy shipments by building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to send more gas to Europe. Trump understood this dynamic, so he sanctioned the firms working on the pipeline and boosted American gas production and exports across the Atlantic. Trump’s strength effectively deterred Putin from attempting to conquer Russia’s neighboring countries.
Unfortunately, Biden has taken the opposite approach. He came into office beholden to extreme environmentalists who insisted that he reshape America’s economy to end fossil fuels. Since Biden’s first day in office, he has waged war on American oil and gas while placating Russia. He canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, canceled oil and gas leasing on federal lands, instructed federal agencies to investigate oil companies, and launched a regulatory assault on domestic energy production that reversed the gains of Trump’s deregulatory agenda.
Biden's actions have made America poorer and weaker while leaving our European allies to depend on Russia for 40% of their energy needs.
Most egregiously, the Biden administration removed Trump’s sanctions on Nord Stream 2, giving Putin one of his top geopolitical priorities.
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine became imminent, Biden’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave Putin even more leverage by further tightening approvals on American pipelines and LNG terminals. And then to add insult to injury, Biden’s climate czar John Kerry went out on television and urged Putin to not let the invasion distract him from "stay[ing] on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate." It’s madness.
These actions have made America poorer and weaker while leaving our European allies to depend on Russia for 40% of their energy needs. Since the moment Biden announced his plans to reverse America First energy policies, it has been a disaster for our economy, for our national security, and even for the environment.
All Americans have felt the negative impacts on the economy, from the shale plays to the gas pump, and everywhere in between. Rising shipping costs have driven up the price of everyday necessities. Many of our energy workers have lost their jobs as great American companies have been crushed by new regulations. And every week, I meet hard-working Pennsylvanians who tell me they cannot afford to fill up their cars or pickups because gas prices keep climbing.
The situation is no better on the national security front. Biden waived the Trump administration’s Nord Stream 2 sanctions, paving the way for Russian oligarchs to pad their pockets and for Putin to increase his leverage. Russia would not have had the strength or the confidence to be so aggressive in Eastern Europe if Biden’s America Last energy policies had not senselessly limited our gas production potential.
The ultimate irony is that all these actions undermine Biden’s purported environmental goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The natural gas we produce in Pennsylvania and around the United States is far cleaner than what comes out of Russia or anywhere else. Biden is either ignorant of or unbothered by the substitution effect he is creating.
Demand for natural gas does not go down just because he foolishly cuts America's capacity to produce it. That demand just gets filled by someone else, including our geopolitical rivals who don’t prioritize environmental preservation. Even American ports are now full of foreign ships bringing natural gas to our shores that is dirtier than what we could have produced right here at home.
What is happening in Ukraine is a tragedy, but it was avoidable – and so was the damage Biden has done to our economy by crushing our energy producers.
We should remove all barriers to ramping up U.S. energy production and distribution immediately. We need that at home to bring down rising prices, and we can sell it abroad too, especially if we finally build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Philadelphia. We should stand up to the extreme environmentalists of the far left, who have aided decades of Russian and Chinese disinformation campaigns to weaken the west by attacking American energy.
Ultimately, this crisis is symptomatic of a much larger problem. Biden is an unmitigated disaster for the United States and our allies, and his failure to promote American energy dominance is one of the main reasons why.