COMMENTARY | According to the Washington Examiner, Putin’s rape of the Crimea has caused the Obama administration to stumble into sensible policy, which is to say encourage natural gas fracking and the export of gas to Europe.
Much of Putin’s power derives from oil and gas exports to Europe. Not only does it provide him with a whip hand to circumscribe the European Union’s freedom of action but also provides income to fuel the Russian war machine.
Boosting natural gas exports to Europe would undercut Putin, lowering the price of gas, and providing the EU with an alternate source of energy. It is a long term solution and thus far the administration has been slow in implementing this policy. But there is nothing like a rogue dictator out to grab territory that doesn’t belong to him to concentrate the mind.
Needless to say expanding fracking and selling the surplus product abroad will provide a much needed boost to the American economy. The Obama administration, which has been fixated on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, has thus far been resistant to expanding fossil fuels. But, by a clever rhetorical slight of hand, it seems to have started to include natural gas in the mix of “clean energy.” Thus frackling is becoming politically correct.
But Europe also has within its own power the ability to wean itself off of Putin’s oil and has by permitting fracking on its own territory. With the possible exception of Great Britain, the EU has thus far resisted this move, actually instituting bans on fracking. That is because a great many European governments are dominated by environmentalist interests who still believe fracking to be the tool of the Devil.
It should be American policy to encourage the Europeans to change this attitude. This too can be to mural benefit. American oil and gas companies have plenty of expertise in the technique of hydauilic fracking. The Europeans would benefit by having their own domestic energy sources. It would be a win/win for all concerned, except of course for Putin.