US Oil Industry Uses Ukraine Invasion to Push for More Drilling at Home
Some Republican lawmakers began to echo the oil and gas industry’s demands.
“It’s now clearer than ever what is at stake when anti-American energy policies make us and Europe more dependent on Russian oil and natural gas,” said Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington State and the Republican leader of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “I continue to urge President Biden to restore America’s energy dominance. It’s our most powerful weapon against Putin,” she said.
Mr. Biden’s attempts to quell concerns, promising that his administration will do everything it can to secure energy independence and “limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump,” have fallen on deaf ears.
“You need to do much more. You need to get your boot off the neck of American energy producers,” Dan Sullivan, a Republican senator from Alaska said in a video response. The administration, he said, should revive the Keystone XL pipeline, for example — the embattled project that would have carried petroleum from Canadian tar sands to Nebraska — and resume issuing drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest tracts of untouched wilderness in the United States.
The oil and gas lobby has been less vocal about putting sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas capacity itself. In fact, even as the United States and Western Europe have imposed other economic sanctions, and Germany has put Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on hold, the Biden administration has so far held back on measures that directly affect Russian energy companies, instead focusing on banks, as well as government officials and their families.
Some of the industry’s biggest drillers, including Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil, are involved in oil and gas projects within Russia.
Aseem Prakash, a political science professor and founding director of the Center for Environmental Politics at the University of Washington, said continued pressure from the climate community meant Mr. Biden was unlikely to backslide on major climate-related decisions, like his canceling of the Keystone pipeline.
“But there could be surreptitious rollbacks, like less aggressive measures in terms of oil or shale leases. And their rhetoric will have to be toned down,” he said, referring to the Biden administration. In places like Pennsylvania, for example, Democrats “simply cannot afford to say, ‘Oil prices are rising, but let’s not revive shale.’ That’s political suicide,” he said.