National security depends on restoring American energy independence

Over the last few weeks, the world has watched in horror as Russia has invaded Ukraine, and the videos and pictures we see on social media and the news are heartbreaking.

The people of Ukraine continue to be in my thoughts and prayers, and although this is Ukraine’s fight, the implications of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked aggression against Russia’s neighbor are reverberating around the world. I believe that the United States and other free nations must match the resolve of the Ukrainian people and respond with swift and severe consequences for Putin and his cronies.

The conflict in Ukraine is a timely reminder that energy independence is not only a component of economic security, but it is also critically important to national security. In the U.S., we cannot waste another second in terms of getting our energy producers off the bench and into the game. American energy independence means we don’t have to rely on foreign regimes for energy supplies.

Unfortunately, since taking office, President Joe Biden has pursued an agenda that is hostile to conventional energy production. He set the tone on his first day in office when he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline—an environmentally responsible pipeline project that was already underway. The project was being paired with $1.7 billion in private investment in renewable energy to fully offset its operating emissions. Also, the president almost immediately froze new oil and gas leases on federal lands—sending a clear signal to oil and gas producers that his administration would be reluctant to work with them to increase American energy production.

President Biden seems to think that he can hurry along the clean energy future he dreams of by discouraging oil and natural gas production here at home, but frankly, clean energy sources are simply not at the point where they can solely power American homes and our economy. As we are seeing now, the only effect of curbing conventional energy production is to either force Americans to pay more for their energy or rely more on foreign sources, like Russia, for oil and natural gas. The more we rely on energy from abroad, the more vulnerable Americans are to energy price spikes and global shortages. Relying on foreign sources of energy also often means doing business with tyrannical governments and volatile areas of the world.

The only acceptable American energy policy is an all-of-the-above energy policy that invests in both clean energy technologies and conventional energy sources. That’s the only way to keep energy prices down and ensure that Americans’ energy needs are met—no matter what is going on in oil-producing countries around the globe. If the president really wants to lower energy prices for our families, as he indicated in his State of the Union address, he could reverse his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would be a much-welcome recognition that liquid fuels will be part of meeting our domestic energy needs well into the future. He can also unlock our abundant energy reserves here in the U.S. by allowing responsible development on federal lands.

I am calling on President Biden to get serious about leveraging American agriculture as an energy solution, specifically restoring integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard. This means not only setting robust blending targets and rejecting unnecessary and counterproductive small refinery exemptions, but also approving advanced fuels from corn kernel fiber and restoring the year-round sale of E15. These measures, and others like them, combined with clean-energy investment, would help lower energy prices now and in the future – and help put our nation on a path to long-term, full energy independence. It’s the best decision President Biden could make for American families struggling with high energy prices, and it’s the best decision he could make for the long-term security of our country.

I hope that the president will rethink his hostility to conventional energy production and spend the next year of his administration embracing the kind of all-of-the-above energy strategy our nation needs.

—U.S. Sen. John Thune is a South Dakota Republican.