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VICTOR JOECKS: To undercut Putin’s ability to kill — drill, baby, drill

President Joe Biden’s green energy policies haven’t just increased gas prices. They’re boosting Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Both the bravery and the suffering of the Ukrainian people is hard to fathom. The optimism about Ukraine’s early military successes has rapidly faded. Russia’s military may not be up to U.S. standards, but its sheer size and firepower is taking a devastating toll. Russia reportedly is hitting civilian targets, too.

The West quickly responded to Putin’s unprovoked brutality. With war on its doorstep, European countries are increasing their defense spending. That includes Germany, which pledged an immediate $113 billion to the military. It also said it will spend more than 2 percent of GDP on defense, just like Donald Trump once called for.

NATO countries also hit Russia with a blizzard of sanctions. Those measures targeted Russian banks, its oligarchs and their yachts and even Putin himself. The sanctions are devastating the Russian economy, but they include a major exception — energy.

In 2021, America imported more than 20 million barrels of Russian oil each month. That was around 8 percent of total imports of liquid fuel. That is indirectly funding Putin’s war. Selling fossil fuels made up 36 percent of Russia’s 2021 budget.

“We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy, and that would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday when asked about stopping Russian oil imports.

There certainly is a strategic interest in not buying Russia oil. It would deprive Putin of the funds he needs to wage war. She’s right, however, that it would raise gasoline prices, creating political problems for Democrats.

You can see the calculus: Sure, Russia is about to overrun Ukraine and slaughter who knows how many people. But if gasoline prices go much higher, Democrats will lose in November. Looks like Biden will keep buying Russian oil.

There is another way. In an ideal world, the United States would be a net exporter of petroleum. In 2020, that actually happened. That was the first year this country “exported more petroleum than it imported,” according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration estimate.

But Biden is outright hostile to U.S. oil production. During the campaign, he said, “We are going to get rid of fossil fuels.” Biden has bought into global warming hysteria, which argues carbon emissions are creating a coming doomsday.

It was unsurprising, then, when Biden attacked the U.S. oil and gas industry after taking office. He canceled the Keystone pipeline. He stopped new oil and gas leases on federal lands. But he removed sanctions on the NordStream 2 pipeline that would have sent Russian natural gas to Germany. At the time, CNN called it “a win for Russian President Vladimir Putin.” After Russia’s invasion, Germany halted the project.

The oil market is influenced by many factors, but supply and demand is a big one. Before the 2020 election, Politico reported on an estimate by the Rapidan Energy Group, which projected the United States would produce 1 million fewer barrels of oil per day by 2023 if Biden won.

Those extra barrels sure would come in handy right about now — both to lower gasoline prices and to undercut Putin’s finances.

Amazingly, the Biden administration still refuses to take steps to increase domestic production. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday that “investing in clean energy is the best way to reduce domestic and international dependence on Russian oil and gas.”

Don’t expect Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto to stand up to Biden. I asked her office if she would support increasing U.S. oil and natural gas production or the Keystone pipeline. No response.

To undercut Putin’s ability to kill — drill, baby, drill.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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