Bipartisan Group in Congress Aim to Restrict Russian Expansion in European Energy Market

While world leaders and CEOs of global companies are in town for the 2018 World Gas Conference, U.S. Representatives Denny Heck (WA-10) and I introduced the Protect European Energy Security Act. The bill requires the executive branch to explain the implications of the Russian Gazprom Nord Stream 2 project to the American people, and how the U.S. is actively resisting the construction of the pipeline.

Russia has a long history of using energy exports as a political tool to coerce European states into taking policy positions favorable to Moscow. While the Kremlin often speaks about mutually beneficial energy partnerships with Europe, it frequently threatens to cut off energy supplies or manipulates prices for geopolitical gain. The development of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will only strengthen Moscow’s energy leverage, by expanding the share of Russian gas on the German market. Cheap Russian gas may seem tempting, but it comes with serious strings attached that could undermine European cohesion and the North Atlantic alliance. The Protect European Energy Security Act shines a light on the vulnerabilities Nord Stream 2 creates and encourage our European allies to explore all potential alternatives to Russian gas.

“It’s no secret that Russian uses its natural resources as a tool to finance the destruction of Western democracies and consolidate power in the elite few who surround Putin,” Congressman Heck said. “In order to protect the United States and our allies across the Atlantic, we must do all we can to prevent the growth of Gazprom throughout Europe.”

The Nord Stream 2 project is a $12 billion natural gas pipeline owned primarily by Gazprom, a Russian Federation-owned oil company with ties to Russian oligarchs and Vladimir Putin. The completion of the project would allow Russian exports to Germany to double, bypass the current route through Ukraine, thus eliminating transit fees.

Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on January 27, 2018: “[T]he United States opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. We see it as undermining Europe’s overall energy security and stability...” Tillerson further stated that the pipeline would allow Putin to use energy as a “political tool.”

Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-44) included a statement of policy of the United States that we would help our “allies and partners in Europe reduce their, especially natural gas, which the Government of the Russian Federation uses as a weapon to coerce, intimidate, and influence other countries.” It further states that the U.S. will “continue to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline given its detrimental impacts on the European Union’s energy security, gas market development in Central and Eastern Europe, and energy reforms in Ukraine.”

I serve on the House Judiciary Committee, and am chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman Heck is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence where he receives regular national security updates and serves the Financial Services Committee, which is responsible for sanctions enforcement.  

 

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