Biden’s Half Measures on Ukraine

The United States has made its most significant contribution to date to Ukraine as it fights for survival against the Russian invasion.  Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to Ukraine Sunday to deliver personally to President Volodymyr Zelensky the news that the U.S. would provide over $700 million in military aid.

“Our support for Ukraine going forward will continue,” said Blinken. “It will continue until we see final success.

The U.S. may be committed to providing the weapons of war, but that same level of support does not extend to another front on what could be a protracted  battle—energy.  Just last week, Biden Administration Climate Envoy John Kerry established an artificial expiration date for the production of natural gas in this country.

“We have to put the industry on notice,” Kerry said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “You’ve got six years, eight years, no more than ten years or so, within which you’ve got to come up with a means by which you’re going to capture (methane emissions), and if you’re not capturing, then we have to deploy alternative sources of energy.”

That is an ominous warning that must have landed with a thud in the natural gas industry, which is being simultaneously challenged to produce and ship more natural gas to bring down prices and, more importantly, replace the Russian supplies that help keep the lights on in Europe.

Russia is a leading exporter of natural gas, oil and coal around the world. Europe imports about forty percent of its natural gas from Russia. Countries willing to take a stand in opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine can try to get their energy from other sources, but they will need supply guarantees, said Greg Kozera, director of marketing for Shale Crescent USA.

“The European Union now lacks energy security,” Kozera said. “The U.S. can displace Russian energy and drive global energy prices down as well as Putin’s profits.”

But while Europe is desperate for secure shipments of gas for the foreseeable future, the domestic energy companies are under attack.  Last November, Senator Elizabeth Warrant (D, MA) accused  natural gas companies of “corporate greed” and profiteering.”  Environmentalists keep pipeline construction tied up with endless litigation.

Toby Rice, CEO of EQT Corp., America’s largest natural gas producer, said gas is the most logical long-term bridge from coal to renewables. “One thing I think that people don’t understand is how much energy demand there is in the world,” he said. “And when solar and wind aren’t capable of meeting that energy demand, people will turn to their next option, which is coal.”

That is evident in China, which is making promises about future reductions in greenhouse gases even as it increases its coal production and use. The Washington Post reported, “China already consumes and produces half of the world’s coal and continued expansion of output and capacity make achieving its climate goals look even more remote.”

The Biden Administration is responding to the crisis in Ukraine by delivering weapons and rallying support among NATO countries.   But the U.S. is falling short of the full measure of support when the administration’s special Climate Envoy is randomly setting termination dates for the natural gas industry.

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