by Tom Evslin
We in the west unilaterally disarmed when we shut down our nuclear plants, discouraged fracking for oil and gas, stopped building pipeline, and – in Europe, at least – outsourced fossil-fueled energy supply to Russia. Bloated on revenue from oil at over $90 barrel and with Europe literally over an energy barrel, Putin has unleashed real war. BTW, his war is not very good for the environment as well as being a calamity for the Ukrainian people and a clear threat to the rest of us.
This is a war we must win. The only hope for winning without actual fighting – and this may be a vain hope – is to take wartime measures to defang Russia by relieving European dependency on Russia’s gas and oil and crushing the price of those commodities. We can do this but not by pursuing business as usual.
Germany, despite initial reluctance, has ruled out opening the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to their country – at least for now. Biden has said that we will release oil our strategic oil reserve. Some of the proposed sanctions will make it more difficult for Russia to finance its energy industry. These are good first steps but not nearly enough.
Germany must postpone the closing of its last three nuclear plants; this closing is now scheduled for the end of the year. Anywhere in the west including the US any scheduled nuke shutdowns which can safely be postponed must be postponed. This is a good green move, by the way; the alternative is burning more very dirty coal to keep the grid operating.
Here in the US we must stop our civil war on fossil fuel extraction. Our fossil fuel competes on the world market with fossil fuel from Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia – not with green energy. We can drill responsibly – and must. How much do you think Putin worries about fugitive methane emissions from Russian wells? We crashed the world price for oil just a few years ago (pre-pandemic), brought it down below $40/barrel. We can do that again. Our natural gas coming by tanker is now crucial to keeping Europe from having to choose between freezing and absolute surrender.
By NEXT winter we must make sure we can ship twice as much natural gas to Europe. Yeah, I said NEXT winter. That means we immediately permit and build new pipelines to new LNG terminals from areas of the US – like the Marcellus – which have an over-supply of trapped gas. It also means we build and commission new LNG tankers immediately. The tankers are the warships of the energy war. They can and must be built now.
We now need to finish and open blocked oil pipelines like Keystone XL. Remember, they are an alternative to a hot war and dirty Russian oil; they are not instead of renewables but in addition to them.
Speaking of renewables, we need to rebuild our grid to carry renewable and non-renewable energy around the country and allow us to further electrify and take some of the pressure off fossil fuels. It is possible that some sub-species of chipmunks will have their habitat disturbed. Can you imagine the environmental impact statement for Putin’s war?
Europe can’t leave all the fracking to us. Tapping their own gas fields is now clearly necessary.
Longer term the US and Europe and Japan and Australia must license several standard models of small, safe nuclear plants and actually build them. We should set a moon-shot target of having the first new nuclear plant in decades online in the next two years. We must achieve this target. We also must finally open the nuclear waste facility in Yucca Flats. Two years doesn’t solve the immediate problem of Russian energy blackmail, but it reduces Russian energy prospects and financing available for them to continue to build out their oil and gas industry. Putin has left the Russian economy almost entirely dependent on oil and gas revenue. The Russian people must be shown that that dependency will lead in short order to financial ruin.
What we must not do is trade allowing Iran to build a nuclear weapon for some short-term relief by having Iranian oil as a substitute for Russian supply. We don’t want to put both the energy weapons and nuclear weapons in more aggressive hands. We can and should tell Saudi Arabia to drop out of the oil cartel with Russia and start pumping if they expect any further help with Houthi rebels or Iran itself.
Human energy is required as well to win the energy war. This is an effort like building during WWII. Factories must retool; retraining must happen. It’s time to shake off the Covid fear and lethargy and get back to work. No sitting back and watching it play out on TV and twitter.
We handicapped ourselves with a premature retreat from nuclear energy and fossil fuels. The world is in immediate danger. Just as we did after the disaster of Pearl Harbor, we can emerge from weakness stronger than ever.
This morning (2/25/22) at 11AM ET I’ll be on This morning (Feb 18) at 11AM ET I’ll be on WDEV (96.1 FM, 550 AM) in VT with Bill Sayre discussing Russia’s brutal invasion of the Ukraine. Streaming at https://wdevradio.com/stream/. It’s a call-in so you can question and opine as well.
The author, an author, entrepreneur, former Vermont state cabinet officer, lives in Stowe. He founded NG Advantage, a natural gas truck delivery company. This commentary is republished with permission from his blog, Fractals of Change.
Could not agree more Tom.
Tom Evslin writes: “We in the west unilaterally disarmed when we shut down our nuclear plants, discouraged fracking for oil and gas, stopped building pipeline………outsourced fossil-fueled energy supply to Russia. ”
Who exactly is the “We” of whom Evslin speaks?
I don’t think it was “We” who did the disarming of which Evslin speaks. It was “Them” who did the disarming…….”Them” includes President Joe Biden, the Democrats and Progressives at all levels of government to include “them’ in Vermont legislature who have done the “disarming” while under the over powering influence of the renewable energy industry and the energy activists.
No it wasn’t “We” who are responsible for the unbelievable energy mess, it was “Them” who are responsible and lead by Joe Biden……For a view closer to home, look at the individuals in Vermont legislature with a D or P after their names……..Then you will have identified who has done the “disarming” and is responsible for emptying your pocketbooks as fuel costs skyrocket.
The “them” of whom you speak Mr. Yankowski, have also, opened up the southern boarder, allowing way over a million illegal aliens into the country, and helped to hide them around the country by distributing them around by the jet, and bus loads, with little or no way of tracking their activities, or even whereabouts. “They/them” have lent some kind of acceptability/normalcy, if not legality, to what the government can make you put into your body. They/them are still sitting on their hands, and keeping American petroleum in the ground, instead of utilizing the resource that we have such abundant supplies of even though, they/them know that this is the answer to the worst of the economic issues we face. In short, if you voted for Slo Joe, I hope you are enjoy reaping what what have sown. The geriatric imbecile that you installed has not gotten anything right yet, and now we are all suffering the consequences.
You still can’t admit it, Mr. Evslin. You voted for Joe Biden because you viewed the election as a personality contest. All you ever come up with in your complaint about Trump is that he’s “…a petulant bully with a Twitter addiction.”
While, on one hand, you viewed Libertarian sensibilities as “Too naively pacifistic for a dangerous world”, that’s precisely what your vote for Biden brought you. That you now see the importance of our energy independence is little comfort. We’ll be very lucky to get through the next couple of years as it is today.
Trump may be a jerk – Lord only knows – but he has been correct on virtually every effort he’s made on behalf of the United States – energy independence being just one of them. And its great that you now recognize this. But make no mistake, you, and people like you, gave us this dystopian world because you are naïve. ‘Like’ him or not, if you want to defeat Putin (and all of the other tyrants in the world), you’re going to have to have someone with the moxie to do the job – whether or not you’d care to sit down with him for lunch one day.
It’s an utterly false premise that we – or anyone – need to defeat Putin.
Evsiln’s rant aside- we do not need to beat Putin, Putin beat biden and the United States.
biden and his handler’s incompetence coupled with their collective need to advance the green agenda has already cost the American Taxpayer trillions. Hang on, because it’s not going to get better as long as we allow the US to pander to climate evangelicals. The mean tweets people hated are gone, replaced with a cabal running this country that outright hate America and Americans.
joe biden is but the demented mouthpiece for this cabal.
Re: “.. an utterly false premise”.
Really: To whom? Do you think Ukrainians have no need to defeat Putin? After all, you said “or anyone”.
Okay, clarification required: let’s be specific. No semantic gymnastics. I said “if you want to defeat Putin (and all of the other tyrants in the world), you’re going to have to have someone with the moxie to do the job..”
First of all, I said ‘if’ you want to defeat Putin. You may not ‘need’ to do anything. But that you presume to speak for ‘anyone’ (i.e., ‘everyone), is a totalitarian sentiment from the get-go.
By ‘defeat’, I mean preventing Putin and other tyrants from defeating those who don’t want to be defeated.. not necessarily you. And by ‘defeating us’, I mean allowing Putin’s world politics and economic socialism to transform our current Constitutional Republic and Free Enterprise system into their (and perhaps your) new world order.
If you don’t think these people need to be ‘defeated’, I take that as meaning that you advocate for inflation and high energy prices, an open border policy, government spending (as opposed to ‘free markets’), one size fits all education policies, and the dilution of out Bill of Rights.
If I’m mistaken, please explain yourself.
Sorry, you’re not making any sense. Evslin was talking about energy markets, so that’s what “anyone” was about. And you’re embracing another false premise. And the imputation of your penultimate paragraph is non sequitur. If anything, the obsession over “Putin” serves as an excuse to ignore the self-destruction of our own economy or a misdirection from those who are actually to blame. “Defeating” Putin wouldn’t solve anything. (Also, I wasn’t even responding to your comment, which I completely agree with, except, obviously, the agreement with Evslin’s false premise that we need – for whatever reason – to “defeat Putin”.)
My mistake, purslane. I assumed, incorrectly it appears, that you were responding to my reaction to Mr. Evslin’s flipflop – which is why I requested and offered clarification. It was, after all, Mr. Evslin who referred to Putin four times, by name, as the antagonist to our energy future. Which is why I referred to Putin, if only in the conditional tense.
OTOH, while there was no ‘obsession’ with Putin on my part, that Putin happens to control one of the world’s major energy rich dystopian oligarchies should not lead ‘anyone’ to under-estimate his malevolent power. Characterize it as we might, Putin’s ‘defeat’, in any context, will improve our condition.
Obviously, Mr. Evslin. Any other brilliantly insightful conclusions?
The USA is helping finance Russia by importing dirty Russian oil!
The USA needs to be energy independent.
Does Mr. Evslin really know who or what he is fighting?
We cannot fight an illusion that continues to perpetuate our enslavement!
Look over here, Russia, Russia, Russia! Forget the fact that China, a communist regime, is well infilitrated and controlling the USA every day for years! Don’t forget Vermont Governor Phil Scott, Mr. Zuckerman, and Jim Condos entertained CCP representatives at our State House February 2019. Russia isn’t the USSR anymore, but the CCP is a brutal communist regime that has more control in the USA than Russia ever could or would.
As Peter commented, it’s “them”. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes: “Biden’s war on fossil fuels helps Putin, as the Ukraine crisis shows.” from https://www.wsj.com/articles/energy-and-american-power-vladimir-putin-russia-ukraine-joe-biden-fossil-fuels-energy-11645902803