President Biden must have his pipelines tangled. On day one, he unilaterally canceled the Keystone XL pipeline's permit. Last week, he did nothing after a Russian cyberattack crippled the pipeline serving a swath from Louisiana to Washington, D.C. But on Wednesday his administration waived sanctions against the Russian company in charge of building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The de facto policy of the Biden administration has become: Russian pipelines good, American pipelines bad.
The Biden administration has admitted that Nord Stream 2 is "a Russian geopolitical project that threatens European energy security," particularly Ukraine and eastern NATO allies, who rely on Russian fuel to keep the lights on. But they waived the sanctions all the same. Historically, Putin's Russia has interfered in its neighbors' domestic affairs by shutting off the pipeline in midwinter. Russia has long sought to increase its leverage with an alternate pipeline that bypasses these countries altogether (like Nord Stream 2). "If the Putin regime is allowed to finish this pipeline, it will be because the Biden Administration chose to let it happen," said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).
Meanwhile, Joe Biden has deliberately turned American energy policy away from fossil fuels altogether. On Tuesday, he drove an electric truck for a photo-op. "The future of the auto industry is electric," he said. "There's no turning back." Unfortunately, Biden didn't mean that we'll eventually transition away from fossil fuels when other forms of energy production become cheaper and more efficient. He meant that everyone should drop what they're doing and get on the electric car bandwagon immediately. That approach simply lacks common sense. Montana Senator Steve Daines (R) compared the effects of Biden's policies to the oil embargo of the 1970s on "Washington Watch." "We saw gas lines. We saw the 55 mile-an-hour speed limit. ... We saw... inflation caused by rising energy prices. We don't want to go back to those days."
President Biden also insisted that his (slightly) diet version of the Green New Deal will create jobs. "I think jobs when I think climate change," he said wistfully. "I think about job loss." Now, basic economics tells us that higher fuel costs reduce economic productivity. The mental gymnastics the president had to perform to convince himself otherwise should score him the gold in the senior Olympics. The fact is, on Biden's watch, Americans have exchanged pipelines for unemployment lines, energy exports overseas for sold out gas stations.
But the president isn't finished quite yet. Biden has an "infrastructure package" with a $2.3 trillion price tag that he is trying to pilot through Congress. Despite the branding, Daines said, "it's primarily another liberal wish list: free community college, daycare, spending more money on electric vehicles than on bridges, roads, waterways, ports, airports." Guess what's not a big-ticket item in the so-called "infrastructure" bill? America's 2.5 million miles of pipelines.
One reason is that pipelines are "a private sector-driven infrastructure project," as Daines said. A pipeline "creates jobs and generates tax revenues" without government intervention. Perhaps that's why big government proponents hate them so much. Another reason is Biden's stance against pipelines.
But Biden's opposition to American pipelines makes no sense. Pipelines, as opposed to trains and trucks, are the environmentally safe and fiscally responsible way to transport fuel because they use much less energy and are less prone to accidents. Biden is tackling the issue the wrong way around. "The answer to higher energy prices and the gas shortage is not more electric cars," said Daines. "It's more American energy." We might have to wait until 2024 to elect a president who understands that.