The Mueller report is in, and one thing couldn’t be clearer: Mueller’s team, despite its best (or worst) efforts, found no evidence Donald Trump or anyone on his campaign team colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 U.S. election.
Despite Mueller’s clear conclusion on this point, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — who, not coincidentally, is running to be her party’s presidential nominee — and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) continue to lead an inane crusade to nail Trump for imagined crimes.
However, if Warren and Nadler are truly worried about efforts to further Russian interests at the expense of the United States, they should look closer to home for active co-conspirators. For example, Democratic politicians from their home states of Massachusetts and New York, although likely not colluding with Russia, are directly promoting policies that further Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests — and all at the expense of the United States.
Massachusetts and New York have declared war on domestic production and transportation of fossil fuels. Many Democrats in those states have made it clear they would rather import fuel sources from Mother Russia than from the United States.
Lawmakers in Massachusetts and New York have blocked construction of critical pipelines to carry U.S. natural gas to and through their states. New York has even banned fracking to produce domestic natural gas.
These policies have prevented the creation of thousands of jobs related to construction and oil and gas production in their states, increased energy costs for their residents, reduced local and state revenues, and increased air pollution — benefiting, directly or indirectly, Russia’s government.
For several years, the Russian government has worked to disrupt U.S. energy markets through social media, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In addition, Russian operatives encouraged, and possibly funded, environmental groups’ protests to block pipeline construction and prevent new oil and gas extraction projects, among other activities.
“The Kremlin manipulated various groups in an attempt to carry out its geopolitical agenda, particularly with respect to domestic energy policy,” the report stated.
Russia’s efforts paid off in Massachusetts and New York. Despite abundant domestic natural gas supplies,residents and businesses in the Northeast pay residential electricity prices that are 44 percent higher than the U.S. average. This is primarily due to political prohibitions on new natural gas pipelines. It doesn’t matter how affordable natural gas is if politicians block the cheapest, safest way to deliver it to market across the region.
As a result, from December 2017 to February 2018, utilities across the Northeast used more expensive fuel oil and even imported liquefied national gas (LNG)from Russia to generate electricity and heat homes.
In Massachusetts, where the state’s pipeline prohibitions have forced utilities to inform residents they would not allow new natural gas hook-ups, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) bragged she’d rather get natural gas from Russia than from the United States.
“LNG is a more efficient and economical way to meet energy needs during instances of high winter demand than building high-risk and costly pipelines that are not needed to maintain reliability,” said Chloe Gotsis, senior deputy press secretary for Healey, in a widely reported email. “Continuing to rely on pipelines is too risky for ratepayers and our climate.”
In April 2018, the Boston Globe debunked Healey’s tall tale. Russian LNG is neither cheaper, nor better for the environment. Anti-pipeline policies in Massachusetts and New York spiked energy costs across the region by $700 million in 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
Additionally, pollution increased, as pipeline restrictions forced utilities to burn more than two million barrels of oil and rely on imported Russian LNG. Oil emits more pollution than natural gas when burned to heat homes and produce electricity. And turning gas into LNG and then back into its normal gaseous state and shipping it across the ocean from Russia emits a lot of additional pollutants that aren’t emitted when natural gas is transported through pipelines directly from U.S. gas fields in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia.
It’s also important to note that the money Massachusetts and New York spent on Russian LNG went directly to support Putin’s regime, a fact the Boston Globe failed to highlight.
While northeastern Democrats have worked tirelessly to help the Putin regime, Trump has consistently promoted policies that put American workers and U.S. economic and national security interests first. To help drive American energy independence, Trump rolled back Obama-era regulations hampering coal, natural gas, and oil production on public lands, rewrote Obama regulations prematurely shuttering coal power plants and hampering coal mining, and withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Trump’s efforts have paid off. America is experiencing the highest economic growth rate in more than a decade, the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years, and the United States is becoming the world’s leading oil producer. Soon, America will be a net energy exporter which, by making our allies in Europe and around the globe less dependent on energy from Russia, will improve U.S. national security, as well as national security for our allies.
Most recently, Trump, on April 10, signed two executive orders to expedite approval of multistate pipelines, liquefied natural gas export terminals, and cross-border infrastructure projects. One order Trump issued directs the federal government to make all permitting decisions on pipelines or other energy infrastructure projects that cross international borders within 60 days. It also gives the president the exclusive responsibility to “issue, deny, or amend” such permits.
“The president — not the bureaucracy — will have sole authority to make the final decision when we get caught up in problems,” Trump said at the signing event in Texas.
Trump’s second energy executive order directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review and modify what the order refers to as an “outdated” section of the Clean Water Act. The section in question requires applicants requesting federal permits for energy infrastructure projects that might affect federally protected waters to get certification from states in which any potential contamination could occur. Under the order, EPA is expected to limit the amount of time states have to consider pipeline and infrastructure permits, as well as the reasons states can give for blocking permits.
“Under this administration, we have ended the war on American energy like never before,” Trump said. “But too often, badly needed energy infrastructure is being held back by special interest groups, entrenched bureaucracies, and radical activists.
“This obstruction does not just hurt families and workers like you; it undermines our independence and national security,” Trump said, explaining the need for his executive orders.
Through these executive orders, the Trump administration is taking a direct shot at politicians in the northeastern United States who have blocked domestic oil and gas development and pipelines. Massachusetts’ attorney general and New York’s governor may not care if their anti-pipeline policies help Russia or about the economic and environmental toll paid by their constituents as a result of their decisions, but Trump certainly does.
Unfortunately, some politicians are undermining U.S. interests and furthering Russia’s economic and foreign policy goals, but one thing is apparent: Trump isn’t among them.
Energy exports are the lifeblood of Russia’s economy and its corrupt government. Perhaps, rather than bloviating about Trump’s imaginary ties to Russia, Warren and Nadler should investigate their respective states’ support of Russia’s energy industry.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.