It’s time for an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

President Biden and Congress must lead the charge to defeat the climate crisis and build a thriving, just and inclusive clean energy future. Join our work to help make it happen.

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It’s time for an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

President Biden and Congress must lead the charge to defeat the climate crisis and build a thriving, just and inclusive clean energy future. Join our work to help make it happen.

Why Clean Energy Is Our Best Response to Free the Energy Market from Russian Aggression

Increasing investment in renewables would weaken petro-dictators like Vladimir Putin, who rely on international fossil fuel demand to prop up their national economies.

© 2022 Chali Pittman/WORT News/Flickr cc by 2.0

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a stunning, unprovoked act of aggression that must be condemned in the strongest terms. The assault quickly reverberated through global energy markets, sending oil and gas prices skyrocketing. While President Biden and Congressional leaders have advanced a number of stopgap measures to manage the immediate crisis and stabilize energy prices, there is only one long-term solution to secure affordable energy for American families and undercut the Putin regime: a transition to a 100% clean energy economy. 

A full clean energy transition is the only way to guarantee predictable, affordable energy supplies insulated from global price shocks. As long as America is dependent on fossil fuels, American consumers will be subject to the volatility and price swings that come with these global commodities. Increasing investment in renewables would instead weaken petro-dictators, such as Vladimir Putin, who rely on international fossil fuel demand to prop up their national economies. President Biden and Congressional leadership must quickly advance the country toward a clean energy future to disempower petro-state bullies, secure a stable and clean domestic energy supply, and provide affordable power to every American. With Senator Joe Manchin at the table and ready to pass a bill with historic clean energy investments, now is the time to act. Majority Leader Schumer must put climate at the top of the Senate’s agenda.

Clean Energy and Electrification Are the Path Forward

To undercut Russia’s military power, secure a stable, affordable energy supply for American households, and take on the climate crisis, the Biden administration must advance the transition to a 100% clean energy economy. As Senator Tina Smith put it , no other country can tell us when the sun can shine or the wind can blow,” which is why clean energy sources are such a powerful tool to achieve independence from a global oil and gas market that can be easily manipulated by fossil-fueled fascists like Putin. 

Because oil and gas are global commodities, no amount of increased extraction in the United States would be able to take away Russia’s influence on the global energy market. That’s why, as Erin Sikorsky, the director of the Center for Climate and Security put it, “the more that countries can wean themselves off oil and gas and move toward renewables, the more independence they have in terms of action.” And right now, Congress is considering a package of climate investments that will do just that. In fact, just last week, Senator Joe Manchin expressed support for passing legislation that includes major climate investments. Congress must seize on the moment and pass them immediately. 

European leaders have already recognized the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. The German government is setting the bold new target of 100% clean power by 2035, and reconsidering their antipathy to nuclear power. Analysts indicate that the Russian invasion will hasten Europe’s transition to clean energy more broadly. The need to kick America’s fossil fuel reliance, and disentangle national economies from the Russian oil and gas industry, is clear.

A major investment in America’s clean energy future would dramatically cut dependence on Russian oil and gas—and insulate American households from future price shocks in the fossil fuel market. Congress can make a direct investment in American manufacturing and domestic clean energy production that would stave off runaway climate catastrophe, save taxpayers money, and deliver on Democrats’ promise to take bold action on climate. Given Senator Manchin’s reiterated support for climate investment legislation—it’s time for Democratic leadership to sit down with Sen. Manchin and make a deal.  

Global Dependence on Fossil Fuels Enables the Putin Regime

The Russian economy is built on fossil fuel extraction. In recent years, the industry contributed more than half of the country’s federal budget revenue, and over 30% of its GDP. Oil and gas comprise 60% of Russian exports, and in 2021 the country’s oil revenue shot up in tandem with the record profits raked in by the price-gouging fossil fuel industry.

Russia’s extraction economy involves the same oil majors that are now rushing to cash in on the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine with a push for more drilling in the US. Western oil companies have invested billions in Russian fossil fuel projects: BP with a $25 billion stake in Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company; Chevron with a 15% stake in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), and subsidiaries that partner with Russian companies; Exxon with the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas producing project in the Russian Pacific and a 7.5% stake in the CPC; and Shell with a 27.5% stake in the Sakhali-2 liquefied natural gas project, financing in Nord Stream 2, and other investments. Many of the companies have succumbed to public pressure and withdrawn Russian holdings in recent days, but one thing is clear: historically, Western fossil fuel corporations have been inextricably linked in support for the Putin regime.

Dependence on Russian fossil fuels also gives Putin powerful leverage over the international community. Without access to Russian oil and gas, global energy prices would spike; that’s why global sanctions have so far left a carveout for Russian energy exports. As long as America depends on cheap oil and gas, we will depend on free-flowing Russian fuels. That leaves us vulnerable to Putin’s whims, and keeps the spigots of cash open and flowing into his warchest. Ramping up fossil fuel extraction at home, meanwhile, would do little to distance us from dependence on Russian fuels.

As long as America depends on cheap oil and gas, we will depend on free-flowing Russian fuels. That leaves us vulnerable to Putin’s whims, and keeps the spigots of cash open and flowing into his warchest.

More Fossil Fuel Extraction Is Not the Answer

As global energy prices spike in the wake of the Russian invasion, fossil fuel interests have moved quickly to capitalize on this crisis with false solutions that would ultimately only strengthen the position of fossil-fueled fascists like Putin. The American Petroleum Institute, a front group for oil and gas interests, released a statement on February 24th—less than 24 hours after the first shells were fired on Ukraine—calling for relaxed restrictions on fossil fuel infrastructure and increased drilling. Republican lawmakers, bankrolled by the fossil fuel industry, have taken their cues from API, including Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) who wore a “Drill, Baby, Drill” shawl to the State of the Union. But these industry talking points are nothing more than a cynical campaign to pad the bottom lines of the very same corporate polluters whose investment in Russian fossil fuel projects has helped prop up the Putin regime for years. In reality, doubling down on America’s reliance on fossil fuels will strengthen Putin’s hand in the long term, do nothing to lower energy prices in the short term, and keep American families dependent on a volatile industry prone to price swings.

If the oil and gas industry successfully entrenches American reliance on fossil fuels, they would secure a ready market for cheap Russian oil for decades to come. That’s because fossil fuel markets move based on price, not geography, and increasing production at home doesn’t mean America will stop importing cheaper fuel from abroad: in 2019, though the US was a net oil exporter, we still imported nearly 190 million barrels of Russian oil. Increasing global demand for oil and gas would, ultimately, only serve to prop up the Putin regime.

In the short term, committing to increased fossil fuel production would also do nothing to cut oil and gas prices. As Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) noted, construction on major new fossil fuel infrastructure takes time, and the results of any new extraction projects would take years to reach the market. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, for instance, took two years and $11 billion to build, and is now bankrupt. The fossil fuel industry’s self-interested policy agenda would do nothing to cut prices for consumers in the critical weeks and months to come.

Instead, oil and gas companies only hope to keep the country hooked on fossil fuels for the long haul, leaving American households vulnerable to price shocks from the consistently volatile fossil fuel market, and accelerating the climate crisis that already poses a significant risk to America’s national security. Global oil and gas prices can swing wildly overnight, often in response to outside forces—like a pandemic, or a declaration of war. Just the threat of limited Russian supply sent oil prices skyrocketing—an unacceptable vulnerability to manipulation by petro-dictators like Putin.

Fossil fuel markets are already responsible for severe financial hardship on American families. National oil prices are up 32% since last year, and Americans across the country are dealing with heating bills that have increased by 90% to 106% compared to last year. Increasing domestic production will do nothing to protect families from this volatility; according to one former State Department energy diplomat, “With globally priced commodities like oil and gas … there is no protection from price disruption even if you have adequate physical supply.”

While the Biden administration is taking steps to manage prices in the short term, we shouldn’t fall for false solutions from the fossil fuel industry. Extending our reliance on oil and gas is a recipe to enable dictators like Putin for years to come. American families can’t afford to remain vulnerable to petro-dictators and the fossil fuel industry’s price swings. For the long term, the US must transition to a 100% clean energy economy.

President Biden must meet this moment with the urgency it requires, and do everything in his power to advance the clean energy transition. Legislation with significant climate investments and a suite of bold executive actions on climate will undercut the Russian petro-state, cut carbon pollution, and secure affordable, reliable energy for working families across the country. Sen. Manchin is willing to strike a deal on a major climate bill; it’s up to President Biden and Senate leadership to bring these transformational investments over the finish line. For the sake of America’s energy security—and national security—they must come to the table and secure a historic investment in the country’s clean energy future.