By: Tyler M. Duvelius, Director of External Affairs
In March of 2018, the news media was consumed by the idea that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Amid the media frenzy, many Americans were learning for the first time about the capabilities of foreign adversaries to influence political discourse in our country through nefarious cyber attacks—a threat that President Biden recently warned against. Even though suspicion toward Russia was at a fever pitch, a Republican-led majority staff report from the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology somehow barely registered in the media. While it was certainly relevant when released, the 2018 report entitled “Russian Attempts to Influence U.S. Domestic Energy Markets by Exploiting Social Media,” seems even more significant now in March of 2022.
In general, the report outlines a coordinated effort by Russia to “disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence domestic energy policy.” How exactly did Putin’s misinformation machine aim to do this? By sowing division among Americans through the publication of over 9,000 Facebook and Twitter posts that disparage the beliefs of both conservatives and liberals. Russia knows that American energy independence will limit European reliance on Russian energy. Not only that, but American energy independence disrupts Putin’s fantasy of reestablishing the old Soviet Union. Perhaps most importantly to Putin and his recently bankrupted band of oligarchs, American energy independence will stop Russia’s elite from lining their pockets with profits from the exportation of Russian oil and gas.
Over the last three weeks, we have seen the geopolitical consequences of energy policy play out in real-time and, unfortunately, will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Put simply, energy independence is energy security—and energy security is national security. When America is energy independent, our economy is more secure and our hand in foreign policy matters is strengthened. In order to achieve this energy independence, America must focus on growing the entire American energy portfolio rather than fixating on any single form of energy generation.
America is at its best when American-led innovation is unleashed on the free market. This rings especially true in the energy industry. American-made energy is cheaper and cleaner than anything that Russia tries to export—or Iran or Venezuela, for that matter. That is why the Biden administration should have never allowed Russia to build the NordStream2 pipeline while simultaneously ending the construction of the KeyStone XL pipeline in the U.S. Investing in made-in-America energy with an all-of-the-above approach that is inclusive of clean energy but not exclusive of oil and natural gas is paramount to limiting U.S. exposure to market uncertainty and limiting the influence of malignant foreign actors, like Russia, on the global stage. The United States must create a surplus of domestically produced energy so large that we do not have to be afraid of what energy sanctions on Russia, or any other dictatorship, might do to the price of our energy here at home.
Polling commissioned by the Conservative Energy Network at the end of 2021 found that Americans are overwhelmingly united in wanting the U.S. government to take action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy in our country. Even on the issue of climate change, 90% of Americans believe that it poses at least a minor threat to society. Over three-quarters of Americans want the U.S. to hold large greenhouse gas emitters like Russia and China accountable, open trade access to send U.S. produced energy to poorer nations, and re-negotiate tariffs to prioritize cleaner energy production.
Despite Putin’s best attempts to divide Americans, a vast majority of us agree on the importance of developing new, clean, American-made energy. Instead of quarreling over the facts, upon which we largely agree, it is time to talk about solutions. 65% of voters favor competition over new mandates. Bipartisan solutions focused on market competition, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, the Growing Climate Solutions Act, and further banning Russian oil and natural gas imports, are already gaining support in Congress. All will drive America closer to a cleaner, more secure future.
At the end of the day, energy independence in America is not a campaign catchphrase—it is a geopolitical weapon that can be used to promote capitalism and spread freedom around the globe. Instead of being keyboard warriors and offering our thoughts and prayers to the people of Ukraine, let’s hurt Putin’s pocketbook by banding together to forge a clean energy future that is rooted in American energy independence.