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Using Energy to Stand Up to Russia

The news has been filled with stories over the past few years about the trouble Vladimir Putin is causing his neighbors. Russia’s vast energy resources give the country leverage over other European nations, and Putin is not shy to use this leverage to advance his agenda.

An editorial in the Houston Chronicle contends that America has a way to thwart Putin’s imperialistic ambitions, and that “way” is through American energy. Here’s what the editorial Exporting America has to say: 

Exporting oil and gas poses one of the best opportunities to strengthen our allies in NATO and the European Union. The former Soviet Union provides more than 40 percent of Europe's oil. Russia has nearly exclusive control over natural gas supplies to the Baltic nations, which the United States has a duty to protect under the NATO charter. This level of control leaves our allies vulnerable to price shocks and supply cuts at the whim of an expansionist oligarch. Yet U.S. crude is still restricted by a 1970s-era export ban and the federal government drags its feet on approving liquefied natural gas exports.

However, the wall is beginning to crumble. The House of Representatives and a Senate committee have already passed a bill to speed up the approval of LNG export facilities by the Department of Energy, but it still needs a vote on the Senate floor and President Obama's signature. The United States is one of the top gas producers in the world, and yet our closest allies rely on a belligerent neighbor to keep from freezing. Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland are actively lobbying the White House to speed up the export approval process, and we can't let them down.

As the Chronicle points out, allowing American oil and natural gas to be sold more freely on the world stage will help our allies. It will also sustain the energy revolution here, as well as all the jobs the energy industry has created. It’s a win-win situation for our nation and for world stability. It’s time for Congress and the president to embrace the full potential of American energy production.

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