by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The drill-baby-drill crowd and its Republican benefactors in Congress view the Ukraine crisis as a golden opportunity to pressure the Obama administration to end its foot-dragging on approving new natural-gas export terminals, arguing that the U.S. can batter Russia’s economy by competing with it in Europe’s natural-gas market. Russia currently supplies about 40% of Europe’s gas. Republicans have introduced multiple bills to accelerate the Department of Energy’s plant-permitting process.
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, despite the plan’s many merits. President Barack Obama has another enemy in his sights, one that he — and some scientists — consider more ominous than the Russian bear: carbon dioxide. Unless controlled, he warns, this greenhouse gas will dramatically alter the planet’s climate, triggering new threats to the American way of life. The president is in no rush to hawk the fuel overseas, despite arguments that the exports would create jobs, trim our trade deficit, and raise federal revenue — with the additional bonus of curbing the bellicose behavior of energy bullies like Russia. If you are betting on natural-gas stocks in anticipation of U.S. exports ramping up in response to the Ukraine crisis, you will be disappointed.
Obama views natural gas as a “bridge fuel” between the petroleum- and coal-dominated present to a clean energy future. He also wants natural gas to fuel more cars, trucks, and power plants. According to his Climate Action Plan, released last June, Obama also favors a global market for gas — down the road — after other countries agree on the “responsible development of natural-gas resources” in a way that minimizes water and air pollution, and after they build the infrastructure to bring that gas to market. The day this all falls into place isn’t exactly around the corner. In fact, it’s unlikely to arrive during Obama’s remaining term of office. …
… Obama argues that climate change is a fact and that we need new sources of clean energy, so we can leave our children a stable world. Putin reminds us there is no such thing as a stable world.