Dan Newhouse

Congressman Dan Newhouse

This week, President Biden will stand before a joint session of Congress to give his annual State of the Union Address. He’s likely to talk about Russia’s unprovoked attack against Ukraine spurred by Putin’s desire to recreate the Soviet Union. He’ll probably mention his response through sanctions, and how we stand with our NATO allies. What our president won’t mention? How his own, drastic energy policies helped us get here.

On day one of his presidency, President Biden unilaterally decimated our domestic oil and gas production with the stroke of a pen. He cancelled the Keystone XL Pipeline, a first-of-its-kind net-zero emissions pipeline that would have safely transported crude oil throughout the United States and put a moratorium on all oil and gas leasing, drilling permits, and lease extensions on federal land. Oil and gas play an important role in our nation’s energy independence—energy development on federal lands and waters account for approximately 24 percent of oil production and 11 percent of natural gas production. At the time, it was concerning, and I spoke out against those moves. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.

After Americans were cut off from our own supply of critical oil and gas by the Biden Administration’s policies, energy costs soared, and energy shortages began occurring across the country. President Biden even decided that further increasing our dependence on foreign countries (and, in turn, increasing global emissions) by giving the green light to Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline made sense. It wasn’t enough.

Instead of reversing course and unleashing domestic energy production, the President reached out to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and 10 other oil-exporting nations, including Russia, Iran, and Venezuela, to plead for an increase in the production of foreign oil. They turned him down.

We’ve had to pay the price of these decisions, quite literally. Gas prices have skyrocketed during President Biden’s presidency while American families are struggling to make ends meet. Prices got so bad that the president even dipped into our strategic oil reserves in an attempt at stopping the bleed.

And now? We have been placed in a weak negotiating position because of our reliance on foreign oil.

On the other side of the Western hemisphere, bombs are flying overhead, tanks are rolling through the streets of democratic Kyiv, and the Ukrainian people are forced to defend themselves from Russian aggressors. The European peace which has endured since the close of WWII has been shattered. Unfortunately, this turn of events was completely predictable. Vladimir Putin and his regime have continued to prove they are little more than criminal thugs and will continue to push the limit until they are stopped. The question is, what can America do?

President Biden devastated America’s ability to produce energy, and that has threatened our ability to play a firm hand in the current fight. Only when Vladimir Putin had taken concrete steps to escalate Russia’s conflict with Ukraine did President Biden “begin” to impose sanctions against Russia. He was hesitant to play a strong hand against Russia because we’re reliant on them for our oil and gas—which funds their economy and military actions. By slashing domestic oil and gas production, President Biden weakened America’s response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine even as he strengthened Russia’s ability to do so.

I stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and will continue to support them and the American people as this escalation unfolds, but if this conflict has taught us anything, it’s that President Biden’s shortsighted policies have real consequences for American consumers, for global security, and the cause of freedom around the world. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated, quite effectively, how essential our energy independence is—not just for our own economic stability, but the safety of the world.

President Biden must reverse his dangerous policies and promote America’s energy independence. Energy security is national security, and a global energy dominant America means a safer world. I call on the President to stop purchasing Russian oil, support domestic energy production and ensure that global peace and American national security are never again threatened by short-sighted kneecapping of our once-world-class energy sector.

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