Oct 18 2018
WASHINGTON — Last week, U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, introduced the European Energy Security and Diversification Act. The bill directs relevant U.S. government agencies to promote and facilitate U.S. private and public sector investment in energy infrastructure projects in Central and Eastern Europe with the goal of increasing the region’s energy security.
Russia views its vast stores of oil and natural gas as weapons in its geopolitical arsenal. Unfortunately, the European Union’s fractured approach to energy security has left it vulnerable to the political coercion that often accompanies Russian energy exports. The European Energy Security and Diversification Act directs the U.S. government to provide up to $1 billion in early- and late-stage support for energy projects in Eastern and Central Europe. Paired with increased diplomatic support, such initiatives would diversify Europe’s energy supply and help counter Russia’s destabilizing influence in the region.
“Russia has the means to coerce political behavior in nations that are dependent upon its energy. It has demonstrated its will to do so. This bill authorizes the USTDA and other agencies to support U.S. private sector investment in strategically important energy projects in Central and Eastern Europe. It will support U.S. national security interests by promoting increased energy security and market diversification in Europe,” said Johnson.
“Corruption, graft, bribery, propaganda, illegal invasions – the Kremlin is doing everything it can to gain power over countries in their periphery. We’ve rightly invested billions to shore up military defenses in eastern Europe, but let’s not forget the equally dangerous implications of Russia’s energy stranglehold on Europe,” said Murphy. “Vladimir Putin gets away with a lot because so much of Europe relies on Russia for energy. By helping our allies secure new sources of energy and contributing to strategically important projects, we can help break Putin’s grip on Europe and create jobs here in the U.S.”
The European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2018 would:
- Authorize up to $1 billion in debt financing and insurance to catalyze U.S. private sector investment in strategically important energy projects in eligible countries over fiscal years 2019-2023, including:
- Natural gas infrastructure such as interconnectors, storage facilities, LNG import facilities, and reverse flow capacity.
- Electricity infrastructure including transmission infrastructure, storage projects, and smart grids.
- Authorize the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) $5 million per year in appropriations for project feasibility studies, reverse trade missions, pilot projects, and technical workshops to support projects in the earlier stages of development.
- Encourage the State Department to ramp up its political and diplomatic support to eligible countries such as by facilitating negotiations for cross-border energy infrastructure and assisting eligible countries improve their energy markets and regulatory environments.