On his first day in office, President Biden killed the Keystone XL Pipeline project. He quickly followed that with measures which have effectively shut down future natural gas and oil production on federal lands for at least one year. The result is a national security disaster.
Some readers may say this view is alarming, but I assure you it is not. Mr. Biden’s actions and his intent to do more to target the oil and gas industry has shut down the activity on shale plays in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado that moved America, in less than four years, from being a net importer, to the world’s largest exporter of energy. That is such a significant factor. We were energy secure, not subject to the economic whims or energy manipulation by Russia or other adversarial countries.
America has been establishing the foundations to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe by way of building export facilities. That development would have helped free our friends and allies from Vladimir Putin’s periodic winter coercion. Russia will no doubt resort back to its energy manipulation if the U.S. retreats from its energy leadership.
Right now, competitors like OPEC are making economic calculations on how to ensure the American shale industry never again threatens their control over petroleum production levels, and therefore prices. Adversarial nations like Russia, Iran and Venezuela desperately want America’s assets to stay shuttered, so their own energy sectors can again fund both terrorism, revanchist policies and internal repression.
Mr. Biden and his advisers, controlled by the extreme green end of their party, think this is the best path forward, even though it has been reported by the EIA that switching from coal to LNG has improved the environment and cut down on energy-related carbon emissions in the United States.
In addition, according to the United Nations Emissions Gap Report 2020, it was determined that the United States has made the most progress compared to any major economy in reducing its carbon footprint. The report noted that while greenhouse gas emissions per capita continue to rise in China, India and Russia, emissions in the United States have dropped on average 0.4% annually over the last 10 years. Through becoming more energy dependent on these countries, we are simultaneously adopting their poor environmental standards. It is hard to understand why the Biden administration would want to move forward knowing this critical fact.
Another price our country will need to pay is in lost jobs. American workers (and many in Canada as well) have lost good paying mainly union jobs on the altar of woke environmentalism. That alone should have halted this misguided agenda, or at least provoked a lively discussion, but it did neither. Sadly, the problem is bigger than that.
By forcing America to return to a level of dependency on others for their energy needs, it puts our security at risk. We can be cut off from energy assets that are now essential. Since many of our allies in NATO are more energy dependent on nefarious regimes (Russia, Iran and Venezuela, plus a few others of shifting loyalty among OPEC’s ranks) than we are, the wider national security concerns are even more troubling. Nations on whom we depend for cooperation and robust support in emergencies, and with whom we have intertwined economies, are now again under the metaphorical thumb of the bad guys. Those same bad actors will now control a larger market share, fueling their ability to do mischief around the world.
The second and third order effects of environmental decisions must be addressed. It appears the Biden administration has failed to acknowledge the ramifications of their attack on the U.S. energy industry. The loss of jobs and creating a huge gap in national security are hugely significant. These misguided policies set must be reexamined, and hopefully reversed as a result of bipartisan discussions, as our national security is at risk. Stop punishing American industry and their workers for being effective and successful.
• Steve Bucci, who served America for three decades as an Army Special Forces officer and top Pentagon official, is a visiting research fellow at The Heritage Foundation.