Until President Biden prioritizes energy independence, he is Putin’s enabler

Published 2:26 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Since Moscow began its assault on Ukraine, Russian forces have killed thousands of civilians and destroyed homes, schools, broadcast towers, and even nuclear energy infrastructure. Despite acknowledging the rank illegality of Vladimir Putin’s most recent invasion of sovereign territory, the international community has been slow to hold Putin accountable due to a crippling dependence on Russian oil and natural gas.
Just a few years ago, European countries initiated a dramatic shift to green energy, pushing domestic producers to prioritize renewable sources while importing natural gas to fill in the gaps. On the campaign trail, Biden vowed to similarly overhaul America’s energy sector. During his first week in office, he made good on that promise, signing Executive Orders to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, suspend drilling on federal land, and freeze new oil and gas leases. This proof of his commitment to a green agenda made environmental lobbyists cheer, but the radical policy shift decimated thousands of jobs and jeopardized any chance America had at maintaining energy independence.
The resulting dependence on foreign oil and gas opened up huge vulnerabilities in our energy supply chains. Last year, the US imported 672,000 barrels of oil a day from Russia, which amounts to about 8% of all oil imports. Not only does this make Russia the third largest supplier of crude oil to the US but it also means that any policy action against Russia must be weighed against the potential ramifications for our trade relationship. Holding Putin to account for his invasion has the potential to constrain already short supplies of oil and push record-breaking prices at the pump even higher.
The left’s climate fears have weakened our ability to challenge Russian aggression. Under President Trump, energy independence was a priority, and as a result, our nation was a global energy exporter. In contrast, Biden put green policies ahead of American interests. His aggressive focus on punishing the domestic oil industry gave Russia the upper hand at the expense of Americans and now, Ukrainians.
Energy is the most powerful economic weapon we have against the new Axis of Evil, and as Russia pushes further into Ukraine, regaining control of our supply chains is the only way to neutralize Putin and cut off his revenue stream. If the left is serious about standing up to Moscow, they should support American-made energy. Last week, I sent Biden a letter laying out 12 steps to regain energy independence. Rather than continuing his play to appease environmentalists, Biden needs to stand up as the leader of the free world. It’s time to stop funding Putin’s war by divesting from Russian energy and reauthorizing the Keystone Pipeline.
America should not be bankrolling a corrupt, hostile government. Each barrel of oil that we buy from Russia is another dollar in Putin’s pocket that he will use to fund his war crimes. Until President Biden stops enabling Putin by prioritizing American energy independence, the new Axis of Evil will keep winning.
(Marsha Blackburn represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.)

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