The primary beneficiary of the environmental movement is neither the bald eagle nor the killer whale but the Russian predator.
When environmentalists suppress the U.S. energy supply, they do not curb the world’s energy demand. So, our competitors, not constrained by political pressure groups, benefit. This holds especially true of Russia, the world’s largest natural gas exporter and second largest exporter of oil. Russia produces about 11 million barrels of oil every day. They consume under four million barrels of oil every day. That surplus fuels their economy before it fuels anything else.
“Crude oil and natural gas revenue comprised approximately 43%, on average, of the government’s total annual revenue between 2011 and 2020,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration informs. “This includes export and tax revenue that the government collected from oil and gas production and sales.”
In other words, the petroleum bought by the West pays for the cluster bombs, the Iskander missiles, T-90s, and AK-12s used to subjugate Ukraine.
The White House points to an adverse domestic impact in refusing to ban Russian oil imports.
The president’s inability to pivot from a stance hardened by ideological hangups to respond to the demands of unexpected events harms us and helps Russia.
“We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy and that would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people … because it would reduce the supply available,” Biden spokesperson Jen Psaki, who notes that Russian oil constitutes just a tenth of U.S. oil imports, explained of the administration’s reasoning to a reporter. “And it’s as simple as less supply raises prices, and that is certainly a big factor for the president at this moment. It also has the potential to pad the pockets of President Putin, which is exactly what we are not trying to do.”
Psaki, in a strictly economic sense, is right. Reduced supply generally does indeed raise prices. But even fellow Democrats question this strategy.
“I’m all for that,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says of blocking Russian oil imports. “Ban it.”
“It is so obviously apparent that we need to cut it off,” Sen. Jon Tester of Montana told NBC News. “I wonder if there’s a reason we haven’t [and] what the hell the reason is.”
The surface reason involves pumped-up prices at the pump. Gas prices rose 7 cents from Wednesday to Thursday. The deeper reason involves President Biden choosing to placate a domestic constituency in continuing to hamstring domestic oil production.
The president revoking the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline on his first day in office jumps out as most obvious example of him placating a smaller constituency to the detriment of this country (and, in an indirect way, the besieged country 5,000 miles away). It hardly stands as the only shackle imposed on energy producers.
Biden’s Department of the Interior reversed the Trump administration policy of expanding petroleum production in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve and proposed a ban on new oil and gas leases near Chaco Culture National Historical Park. “The government has not held a coal lease sale since Biden took office,” The Washington Post noted about a month ago. “The [Bureau of Land Management] is considering nine active coal lease applications, but it has yet to schedule any sales.”
The Post explains that the Biden administration approved more drilling permits in its first year than the Trump administration did in its. And the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that American oil production sets a new high in 2023. So, not all signs discourage.
But the president’s inability to pivot from a stance hardened by ideological hangups to respond to the demands of unexpected events harms us and helps Russia. It highlights his rigidity and inside-the-box thinking.
Even a group as committed to freedom as, well, Young Americans for Freedom grasped the need to put country above free trade. They campaigned vigorously, and successfully, in 1965 to block Firestone’s plan to build a tire factory behind the Iron Curtain. A few years later, they asked in an advertisement about trading with Communist nations, “Are we financing our own destruction?”
Trade, generally a wonderful thing, can undermine national interests in certain extreme cases, such as with Russia then and now. Given that within the United States exists a resource-rich state so like Russia’s resource-rich Siberia that it once earned the mock designation “Siberia’s Siberia” when it belonged to Russia (When does Putin try to reclaim Alaska?), our decision to import not just Russian petroleum but any at all appears foolish. Import mangos, iPhones, Harris Tweed, and champagne. Why import a possessed resource vast enough to drown us all?
Jen Psaki said it: “It’s as simple as less supply raises prices.” If the Biden administration believes this as a reason to not block Russian oil imports, then why don’t they believe it as a reason to open that big pipeline and let those derricks drill, baby, drill?
Jed Clampett does not approve. Neither does Miss Jane.