Biden energy policy enriched Russia, emboldened Putin, enabled invasion of Ukraine, critics claim

"The Biden Administration is nickel and diming our way forward when we should be putting punitive sanctions, in the immediate moment, on the primary source of revenue for Russia which is their energy and oil exports," former VP Mike Pence tweeted.

Updated: February 25, 2022 - 11:33pm

The Biden administration's energy policy — from canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline to acquiescing to Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline and canceling federal oil and gas leases — has helped enrich and embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin, facilitating his invasion of Ukraine, critics argue. 

When President Joe Biden first took office, he revoked permission for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, banned new leases for oil and gas production on federal land, and planned on restricting methane waste emissions from natural gas drilling on public lands. While the U.S. pipeline construction has stopped, a Louisiana federal judge's ruling has delayed the Biden administration's plan to restrict natural gas drilling. 

Largely as a result of such sharp restrictions on U.S. energy production, gas prices at the pump have jumped by $1 a gallon from a year ago, and oil prices have skyrocketed to $90 a barrel — the highest levels since the Obama administration.

Last year, Biden also lifted bipartisan congressional sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was to deliver Russian natural gas to Germany. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Biden announced that he would reinstitute the sanctions, an announcement that came a day after Germany halted certification of the pipeline. 

The only option for Biden to "affect Russian behavior — is to kick them out of the international banking system, and he wouldn't do it," former Deputy National Security Advisor KT McFarland told Fox News on Thursday at CPAC. "Why? Because the Germans and the French and the Italians — nobody wants to go along with it. Why? Because they all rely on Russian energy, Russian oil and natural gas."

New Jersey Democrats Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Bill Pascrell also recommended removing Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) payment system.

While Biden has said that he believes banning Russia from SWIFT is an "option," he acknowledged that some European allies currently oppose the move. 

During a CPAC panel discussion, McFarland said the energy independence the U.S. achieved under the Trump administration helped the country get out of "forever wars" in the Middle East, allowed it to export natural gas, and replace other countries as the world energy supplier. By doing so, oil dropped to $40 a barrel, half of what it previously cost, which would have starved Russia of the revenue needed to fund a war.

"Biden," McFarland argued, "should have said to the American people, 'I'm reversing course, and I'm going to reopen American energy production, oil, natural gas, the Keystone Pipeline, liquified natural gas terminals.'"

She added that he should have told the Europeans: "I got your back, I will give you energy security. Don't rely on that unreliable Russian stuff. We will sell [to] you at a good price."

Former Vice President Mike Pence criticized Biden's new economic sanctions in a tweet on Friday, saying, "The Biden Administration is nickel and diming our way forward when we should be putting punitive sanctions, in the immediate moment, on the primary source of revenue for Russia which is their energy and oil exports."

Biden's decisions to shut down the Keystone XL Pipeline and greenlight the Nord Stream 2 pipeline "gave Russia the leverage to create the crisis that we are witnessing unfold in Ukraine," South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem wrote in a Fox News op-ed Thursday.

On Friday, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged politicians to insist that Biden target Russia's energy exports. "Republicans and Democrats alike need to urge Biden to hit Putin where it hurts, starting with the Russian energy sector." she tweeted

Phill Kline, director of the Amistad Project and former Kansas attorney general, also decried Biden administration energy policy for enabling Russian aggression, tweeting on Friday: "Biden energy policy is financing the Russian war machine! Russian exports in natural gas up $30B FY 2021 over FY 2020 while Energy Secretary Granholm holds up US exports of clean US liquefied natural gas in her fidelity to the AOC Squad."