High schoolers trading science experiments for making Molotov cocktails. Pediatric cancer patients huddled in basement bomb shelters. Architects, teachers and grandmothers taking up arms to protect their country’s freedom. This is the situation in Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion of this sovereign democracy in an attempt to rebuild the Soviet Union.
The United States has taken action against Russian aggression, with sanctions crippling their banks and currency. However, Russia’s lucrative oil and gas industry remains virtually untouched, giving Putin enough capital to sustain the brutal attacks against Ukrainian civilians.
The embarrassing truth is that the U.S. has been one of Russia’s many customers. Last year, we imported hundreds of millions of barrels of Russian oil and petroleum products. Following an intense pressure campaign from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the White House finally announced a ban on the import of Russian oil today. This is an important step in the right direction, but there’s more we should do to hold Russia accountable and address our own energy insecurity.
In the Senate, I’ve introduced legislation to counter Russian aggression by closing a loophole in current sanctions that allow Russia to launder money through the purchase and sale of gold, as well as a bill to provide American internet and phone services to Ukraine’s citizens and military. I authored bills to strengthen our own security by screening U.S. outbound investments to Russia for national security risks and identifying ways to counter Russian energy influence globally. In addition to these bills, I’ve cosponsored legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, increase domestic production of crude oil and natural gas, streamline the process for new liquefied natural gas exports, and open up oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters. I’m looking forward to discussing these solutions during a conversation with Dr. Daniel Yergin on Friday as part of Houston’s CERAWeek.
Energy security isn’t an impossible fantasy — in fact, just a few years ago American energy was thriving. In 2019, the U.S. became a net total energy exporter for the first time since 1952. That lasted through 2020, but President Biden has turned back the clock, taking us from an era of energy independence back to the oil crisis of the 1970s. From day one, this administration has taken actions that weaken our energy security. Only hours after being sworn in, President Biden cancelled the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline and halted new energy leasing and permitting on public lands and waters. Oil production is down by about 1.2 million barrels per day since March 2020, stacking the cards in Russia’s favor.
Energy security is national security. We are a resource-rich country and there’s no reason we should rely on any power-hungry dictator for our energy needs.