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Thune: Biden Picks Russia’s Energy Monopoly Over South Dakota’s Energy Independence

"The president cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline and its 11,000 American jobs yet is now conceding to Russia on the construction of a Russian pipeline."

May 20, 2021


WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the United States’ progress toward energy independence and the importance of all-of-the-above energy policies that invest in oil and natural gas, ethanol and other biofuels, solar, wind, and hydropower. Thune noted that President Biden’s hostility toward affordable and reliable energy security in the United States, his decision to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline, and his apparent preference for Russia’s energy monopoly could be detrimental to our national security.  


Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, the recent Colonial Pipeline hack, which saw more than 15,000 gas stations run out of fuel and drove gas prices to their highest level in almost seven years, was a timely reminder of the importance of cybersecurity.  

“In today’s world, where almost everything we do has a cyber component, cybersecurity has to be a priority.

“Companies have to prioritize it, to keep their systems, services, and customer information secure.

“State governments have to prioritize it.

“And the federal government has to prioritize it.

“Cybersecurity is a critical part of our national defense, and it is vital that we keep security systems and data secure.

“The Colonial Pipeline hack was also a timely reminder of something else – the importance of maintaining our energy security via energy independence. 

“As Americans panicked over gas shortages from the Colonial shutdown, gas stations saw lines that hearkened back to the 1970s, when conflict in the Middle East and an oil embargo resulted in serious shortages here at home.  

“Since then the United States has, to a greater or lesser extent, worked to become energy independent – in other words, to make sure that we are able to rely almost entirely on North American energy sources instead of imports from overseas – and to make sure that American consumers never have to question whether they will have reliable and affordable access to energy and fuel.

“We’ve made a lot of progress on that front.

“But it requires continued commitment and investment.

“It also requires an all-of-the-above energy policy that pursues investment in everything from oil and natural gas, to ethanol and other biofuels, to solar, wind, and hydropower.

“Unfortunately, Democrats are increasingly minimizing the oil and natural gas part of that equation.

“I’m a longtime advocate of clean energy and clean fuels, but the fact of the matter is that our economy is still going to need traditional sources of energy – namely oil and natural gas – for a long time to come.  

“I don’t expect airplanes or freight trains to be running on electricity or solar power any time in the near future.

“Fortunately, as technology has advanced, it’s become easier and easier to explore for, extract, and transport oil and natural gas in an environmentally responsible way.

“And it’s vital that we continue to develop domestic oil and gas resources, so that down the road we don’t find ourselves again relying on oil from the Middle East, Venezuela, or other unstable areas of the world.

“That’s why it was so disappointing that one of President Biden’s first actions as president was to pause new leases for oil and gas production on federal lands and offshore.

“Oil and gas production on public lands and offshore is an essential part of the U.S. domestic energy supply, accounting for 22 percent of domestic oil production and 12 percent of domestic gas production in 2019.

“Only a tiny percentage of public land is used for production, but the resulting oil and natural gas is significant.

“Halting new oil and gas drilling could jeopardize the stability of our affordable energy supply, and would definitely jeopardize the hundreds of thousands of American jobs that are supported by this industry.

“Not to mention the billions of dollars of revenue that oil and gas development disburses to states and to federal programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“Mr. President, another early – and discouraging – sign of President Biden’s hostility to affordable and reliable energy security came when he halted construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his presidency.  

“That one hit particularly close to home, since the pipeline would have run through nine counties in South Dakota and brought economic growth to small towns like Philip and Murdo.

“Mr. President, the Keystone XL pipeline has to be the most studied project in the history of our nation.

“And it’s been pretty conclusively demonstrated that the pipeline would provide an environmentally responsible way of transporting oil from Canada and the Bakken oil fields in Montana and North Dakota to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

“The Obama administration – that’s right, the Obama administration – concluded that the pipeline provided the most environmentally sensitive way of transporting the oil.

“And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – a staunch liberal – included the pipeline in Canada’s clean energy plan.

“And on top of all that, the pipeline’s owner committed to offsetting the pipeline’s operations with $1.7 billion in renewable energy investment.

“But none of that mattered to leftist environmentalists, who fixed on Keystone XL as a proxy for their opposition to oil.

“It’s difficult to think of a more counterproductive crusade.

“Thanks to their efforts, oil that would have been transported via the pipeline will now be transported by rail or truck – more environmentally hazardous methods of travel, which, incidentally, will also produce far more emissions – emissions that will likely not be offset by renewable energy investment.

“And I haven’t even mentioned the cost to people’s livelihoods.

“The cancellation of the pipeline will end up costing 11,000 American jobs – most of them those good union jobs the president keeps talking about. 

“It also means that Americans will not see lower prices at the pump as a result of the efficiencies of the pipeline, which is particularly frustrating at a time when prices are rising.

“But when you’re pursuing an ideological crusade, I guess that doesn’t matter.

“Mr. President, I find it particularly fascinating – or, more accurately, troubling – that the president cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline and its 11,000 American jobs yet is now conceding to Russia on the construction of a Russian pipeline – Nord Stream 2 – by waiving sanctions against the Russian company constructing the pipeline.

“Of course the president has more direct authority over pipelines here in the U.S., but the president is taking a notably new position.

“The successful construction of Nord Stream 2 will further isolate Ukraine and deny the country billions in revenue as it defends against Russian aggression.

“And it will make our allies more dependent on Russia’s energy monopoly for their energy supplies.

“The president has talked aggressively about countering Putin and Russian aggression – and his secretary of state has talked explicitly about the importance of halting the construction of Nord Stream 2.

“But now, with a chance to do something about halting the construction of the pipeline, the president is taking the pressure off, even though the president himself has correctly called the pipeline a “fundamentally bad deal” for Europe.  

“It’s deeply troubling that our European allies may soon be relying on Russia for an increased portion of their energy needs.

“And it’s yet another reminder of the need to make sure that the United States is not dependent on bad actors anywhere in the world for our oil or any other energy resource. 

“I hope the Biden administration will end its embargo on new oil and gas leases and think about pursuing an energy policy that embraces not only environmentalists’ pet energy projects, but all important energy sources.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that our national security depends on it.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”