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Biden and Europe Should Respond to Russian Aggression by Scrapping Extremist Climate Policies

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was facilitated by alarmist policies enacted by the United States and Europe, meant to combat alleged runaway global warming.

Germany, for example, decided to abandon coal and nuclear energy in favor of supposed climate-friendly “renewable” energy sources. And in the United Kingdom, after briefly considering allowing fracking a few years back, the government has basically doubled down on wind and solar, erecting bans or nearly insurmountable hurdles to natural gas development on the U.K. mainland.

Those costly sources simply are not reliable enough to sustain the German, U.K., or the wider EU economies. Partly as a result of these policies, even before Russia invaded Ukraine, many Europeans were suffering under cripplingly high energy prices and periodic energy shortages.

Germany’s response has been to become even more reliant on Russian natural gas than it already was. Indeed, major Western European companies have investments in pipelines being built from Russia. Western Europe, having given Russia power over it, emboldened Putin to invade Ukraine.

Under President Donald Trump’s initiative to make American energy dominant, the United States not only became energy independent but also became a net energy exporter. Expansion of natural gas production and the rapid opening of new Liquefied Natural Gas export terminals allowed America to help Europe out of its mess by providing an alternative, geopolitically friendly, source of reliable energy. Had this initiative and other policies the Trump administration instituted continued under President Joe Biden, it could have meant European countries purchasing more energy from America, putting money in our pockets, rather than funding Putin’s war machine.

Instead, Biden reversed course. The Biden administration’s “whole of government approach” to fighting climate change requires rapidly weaning the United States from fossil fuels.

Accordingly, Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline partnership with Canada on his first day in office; he imposed a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands and on the U.S. outer-continental shelf. Since then, Biden has canceled oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; proposed methane emission restrictions that would make it harder and more expensive to develop, store, and transport oil and natural gas in the United States; proposed increasing the fees and royalty rate oil and gas producers must pay the federal government; and recently announced plans to foreclose drilling on more than half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The result has been to dramatically drive up prices for fossil fuel energy. During Biden’s first year in office, Biden’s climate policies have resulted in overall electricity prices rising by more than 8 percent, home heating oil prices increasing by 43 percent, West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices rising by more than 80 percent, natural gas prices surging by 61 percent, and the price of gasoline jumping by 98 cents per gallon, about 42 percent. To be clear, higher energy prices are the explicit goal of administration policy because the administration believes it is necessary to fight climate change. These policies are not only seriously harming Americans with sharply higher energy prices contributing to higher prices throughout the economy and thus the current upward inflation spiral, but they are also enriching Putin and his oligarchs, who reap the benefits of high-priced Russian oil.

The United States and Europe have crippled their own economies and harmed their own citizens with anti-fossil fuel policies in the name of fighting so-called global warming, simultaneously endangering world peace and security. Russian troops are on the ground creating orphans in Ukraine, while John Kerry, President Biden’s climate czar, bizarrely prattles on about greenhouse gas emissions from Russia’s military action there.

There is never a good time to enact bad policies, and making America and the world more beholden to Russian influence via its stranglehold on European energy markets was about as bad a policy as one can imagine.

For economic, humanitarian, and geopolitical reasons, President Biden should reverse course immediately. He should use his executive authority to remove all restrictions on energy exploration and production in the United States. He should call on all states that still restrict fracking to allow the extraction of clean, low-cost natural gas. He should scrap ongoing efforts to impose carbon dioxide restrictions on every sector of the economy. And, he should pull out of the Paris Agreement, with its climate alarmist restrictions that simply empower the likes of Vladimir Putin.

Bold actions such as these might force Putin and other potential bad actors, I’m thinking China here, to reconsider aggressive, expansionistic policies.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.( a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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