by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Willow oil project in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve would deliver 160,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. consumers for the next 30 years if completed. The project was approved by President Donald Trump but blocked by far-left activists in federal court. Now, President Joe Biden’s administration must decide if it will issue a new environmental report approving the project or side with environmental activists and kill the project.
And this is a foreign policy decision.
Some Democrats don’t see the link between domestic oil production and national security. “This is the same tired argument they’ve been making for the last several years, where we live in this binary world where countries have to either buy our fossil fuels or Vladimir Putin’s,” California Democrat Jared Huffman recently said. “In a decarbonized world, he is powerless, his country is poor, and they’ll be looking for a new leader.”
If Huffman were able to snap his fingers and magically decarbonize the world overnight, then he might have a point. There would no longer be a binary choice between developing American fossil fuels or buying Putin’s. But here in the real world, renewable energy is decades away from replacing fossil fuels. Putin’s entire grand strategy involves exploiting that reality as long as he can. Both Europe and Biden have played right into his hands — at least until now.
Just look at the decisions Europe has made over the last decade and how those decisions have already empowered Putin.
As recently as 2000, EU countries produced almost 10,000,000 terajoules of natural gas per year and imported just about 7,000,000 terajoules a year from Russia. Then, far-left environmentalists came to power and moved the European Union away from producing natural gas. The movement toward renewable energy production was not nearly fast enough — by 2020, EU countries produced less than 4,000,000 terajoules of natural gas and had to import over 9,000,000 terajoules from Russia.