On Wednesday in Brussels, Secretary of State John Kerry pledged American leadership in making it more difficult for energy to be used as a geopolitical weapon. However, the Obama Administration’s policies have done little to free the energy market. For American actions to match Kerry’s rhetoric, the U.S. must enact policies that free America’s energy markets.
Kerry touted American energy entrepreneurship—in particular U.S. natural gas production—for ensuring the future energy security for the U.S. and our allies. Kerry stated the U.S. interest in ensuring that energy is not used as a political tool:
We can’t allow it to be used as a political weapon or as an instrument for aggression. So we are taking important steps today in order to make it far more difficult for people to deploy that tool.
Kerry lauded the Administration’s Climate Action Plan as a driver of American energy supply diversification. The plan, however, would do no such thing. Instead it relies on mandates, government loan guarantees for cherry-picked “green companies,” and regulatory overkill in an exercise of wishful thinking that will drive up costs, hurt the economy, and cost valuable jobs.
Recognizing the important impact American liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports would have on U.S. allies in Europe, Kerry praised new LNG import terminals in Europe and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) approval of a seventh export license for American LNG.
However, no American LNG will travel to our NATO allies in Europe, or to Ukrainians, or to many other important allies across the globe without DOE approval. An antiquated, unnecessary, and burdensome export licensing requirement stymies LNG exports. The resulting constrained American market magnifies the effectiveness of energy as a geopolitical weapon in places like Eastern Europe. As Heritage has written, a change in U.S. policy is the right economic and geopolitical move:
Increasing domestic energy production and lifting bans on energy exports would help both the U.S. economy and Ukraine. By increasing energy supplies to the global market and diversifying global supplies, these reforms also would diminish the ability of any nation, including Russia, to use energy as a weapon to impose its will in the future.
If Secretary Kerry and the Administration were serious about ensuring that energy is no longer an effective tool for aggression, they would support policies that liberalize America’s energy market.