As tensions increase between the West and Russia over Ukraine, the risks to our national security from the Biden administration’s energy policies are coming into focus.
President Biden is attempting to discourage aggression by President Vladimir Putin by positioning thousands of U.S. troops across Eastern Europe, and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken is threatening to reimpose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that Biden waived just a few months after taking office.
Russia’s goals for Nord Stream 2 have always been clear: increase European dependence on Russian gas, bypass and weaken Ukraine and strengthen Putin’s hand in the event of any conflict.
So here we are. Nord Stream 2 was completed this past September, European natural gas prices are soaring, Ukraine remains under threat, U.S. troops have been deployed as deterrents and Putin is demanding that NATO reduce its military footprint to post-World War II levels.
Here at home during Biden’s first year, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia as a supplier of crude oil and crude products to the U.S. with a record average of more than 700,000 barrels per day.
Nearly all that volume is going to U.S. Gulf Coast refiners that once relied on imports from Venezuela that are similar in weight and sulfur content to Russia’s.
Some Gulf refiners previously invested billions to take another kind of heavy, higher-sulfur crude from a slightly friendlier source: Canada.
That crude would have flowed to the Gulf via the Keystone XL Pipeline at a rate of 830,000 barrels per day, or enough to replace every barrel of Russian imports.
After it was resurrected under President Trump, Keystone was killed on day one by Biden. With a stroke of a pen to appease his extremist environmental base, Biden destroyed American jobs, betrayed our ally, strengthened our rivals and weakened our energy independence.
Now Americans are paying the price, and quite literally. As the situation at the Ukraine border has escalated, one grade of Russian crude exports jumped 30% in a month to $88 per barrel as of Jan. 20 according to Platts.
In sum, Russia’s treasury is benefiting from the very tensions it is creating, and Americans are funding it at the pump.
Another action Biden took on his first day in office was to suspend all lease activity in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, here in Alaska.
The first of two lease sales mandated by Congress in 2017 – with a footprint limited to only 2,000 acres within the 1.5 million-acre coastal plan – was held just two weeks earlier.
The State of Alaska acquired several tracts through our development bank and we are now suing the Biden administration over this unilateral and illegal action violating duly passed legislation.
The potential at ANWR is massive. Just 60 miles west of the coastal plain, Prudhoe Bay accounted for as much as 20% of domestic production at its peak in the 1980s.
Estimates for ANWR are limited, but the U.S. Geological Survey has consistently pegged the resource at more than 10 billion barrels. Potential peak production at ANWR is up to 1.2 million barrels per day, according to the independent Energy Information Administration. That’s more than 10% of current domestic production.
As shale production flattens with drillers slowing growth in basins like the Permian, the importance of conventional fields like Pikka and Willow only grows.
ANWR, Pikka and Willow represent up to 1.52 million or more barrels of potential daily production that would refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, ensure energy independence, protect national security, create jobs and keep our wealth in the U.S.
Nord Stream 2, Keystone and ANWR were bad enough, but Biden wasn’t done.
Willow is in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and Biden compounded his foolish policies last month by announcing his administration will revert to the outdated 2013 management plan that closed half of its 23.5 million acres to development.
The tests from Willow indicate a light, sweet grade of crude nearly identical to the West Texas Intermediate benchmark. WTI has risen rapidly in price because of supply strain and its lower cost to refine.
Yet Biden is attempting to close off half of the NPR-A where the highly prospective Nanushuk and other well-known oil-bearing formations lie.
Ironically, federal courts continue to strike down environmental analysis for resource permits such as Willow or the 2021 Gulf of Mexico lease sale because judges don’t agree with the conclusion that downstream CO2 impacts are minimal because oil will be produced elsewhere if it isn’t produced here.
In fact, this is exactly what is happening now. Lower U.S. production has only led to increases by our energy rivals who have less regard for the environment or human rights.
Of all the disasters Biden has presided over since taking office, his reversal of policies that led to our energy dominance may be the worst now that thousands of U.S. troops are being put in harm’s way because Biden gave up much of our economic leverage to appease the environmental movement.
The results are in, and it is time for a reset.
Mike Dunleavy is the 12th governor of Alaska.