As the world’s attention shifts from Sochi to Kiev and Crimea, inevitable discussions of what the U.S.’s involvement overseas should be is in full swing. While the President’s sanctions may send a message, they are seem to be nothing more than face-saving, powerless threats. We’re slapping the wrist of the bully for not playing by the rules when he has no intention of following the rules in the first place.
So then, what is our nation’s appropriate response? After ten years in the Middle East, another war over a little piece of land that most American’s could not locate on a map would not be a popular solution. This may be a rare instance of bipartisan agreement. On the other end of spectrum, perhaps it is time we mind our own business. What’s a conflict on the other side of the world over EU and Russian allegiance have to do with us? We have our own problems to worry about, right?
Unfortunately, Ukraine is a key piece to the puzzle in Putin’s dream of reuniting the old Soviet Republic. The good news is that a possible solution to America’s involvement may not be so binary, but may come in the form of liquid natural gas (LNG).
According to an article from realclearmarkets.com, exporting the U.S.’s quickly expanding capacity for LNG overseas to the Western-European market would have both financial and geopolitical benefits. The article asserts that over half of Ukraine’s natural gas and 30% of Europe’s is provided by Russia. Since Russia’s main source of revenue is oil and gas, inserting our own supply at cheaper prices would have a crippling effect on Russia’s grip in these areas.
If this is such a great idea, why then isn’t it already being done? Nothing more than some good, old-fashioned government red tape.
Here’s just a swath of some of these regulations as mentioned by RealClearMarkets:
First, getting a project approved to sell to one of the government’s 20 (yes, only 20) approved countries can take years. And since 2011, a whopping 6 projects have been approved. But that is only if you get past the initial step of drilling, which is no small task. Between 2006 and 2011, approved drilling permits decreased by almost 8,000, and the number of days to acquire a permit has doubled. As a result, this disincentive has caused permits applications to decrease by 50% from 2007-2012.
Not only are these regulations hindering our ability to tap into our natural resources for domestic consumption, but also hamstringing our ability to leverage our energy production abroad. Deregulating our LNG markets could provide a creative, safe, and effective solution to the conflict in Ukraine by taking the power out of the hands of the oppressive few and enabling those vying for freedom and democracy in their country to flourish.
Energy fuels our economy, and economic strength and energy independence allow us to be a force for peace and security in the world.