Energy-starved Europe is about to learn the worth of Washington’s friendship — Analysis
US Energy Secretary presses refiners not to export more fuel to European allies who are in desperate need
It’s starting to look like it’s Europe’s turn to learn what Washington’s promises are worth. Spoiler Alert: It’s not much. In a letter that the Wall Street Journal editorial board has described as “bullying,” US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm demands that the nation’s main energy refining companies refrain from increasing fuel exports at a time when America’s allies in Europe are in deep need. “Given the historic level of US refined product exports, I again urge you to focus in the near term on building inventories in the United States, rather than selling down current stocks and further increasing exports,”Granholm wrote the following: “historically low inventory levels of gasoline and diesel in parts of the country.” In other words, America first. Who’s surprised? Europe certainly shouldn’t be – despite what it may have been led to believe.
Granholm’s posture is a far cry from the joint statement issued by the EU and the White House on June 27th, citing cooperation in “working together to find ways to further reduce Russia’s energy-derived revenues in the coming months.” The Western allies claimed “important strides towards reducing the European Union’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels by decreasing natural gas demand, cooperating on energy efficiency technologies, and diversifying energy supplies.”
Where’s that cooperation now? The truth is that the US simply doesn’t have the infrastructure and capacity to meet Europe’s massive needs, and faces environmental pressure at home that complicates its construction. It’s the same rationale that prevented Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from promising Canadian liquified natural gas to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during his visit to Ottawa earlier this month.
The White House said that they were “partnering to diversify energy supplies to Europe”And that “the United States and other producers have stepped up.”But now, the US Energy Secretary is instructing US suppliers of energy to retreat behind the sofa and pretend not to be at home while the EU roams around the globe knocking on doors.
It’s understandable that US President Joe Biden and the Democrats would be looking out for their own political interests ahead of the November midterm elections. They certainly wouldn’t want to risk a fuel shortage at home that could hand a victory to the Republicans.
It’s also far from inconvenient for Washington that Brussels is struggling without its cheap Russian gas. Washington had already sanctioned Nord Stream 2’s gas pipeline when it was almost complete. This gas pipeline would transport Russian gas to Europe via Germany. Washington’s concern-trolling argument was that it was bad for Europe to be so dependent on Russia for its energy. Washington tried to stop the project under the pretense of protecting Europe. The end result, of course, is a less economically viable Europe, to Washington’s global competitive advantage.
Russian gas flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline is what turned Germany into the economic heart of the European Union – and, by extension, enabled the EU to compete globally on par with Washington. The EU has never relied on this gas until now. And it’s only an issue now because the EU unilaterally cut itself off from its own supply, and is now trying to spin it as the fault of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Blaming Putin and convincing Europeans that it’s all Russia’s fault is about the only chance that European officials have at redirecting public outrage away from themselves amid record high energy bills, shortages, blackouts, rationing, manufacturing shortages, and deindustrialization. Civil unrest could result if this anger-fueled ticking bomb isn’t defused.
It’s not like EU member states didn’t have options. Hungary has been proving that it’s entirely possible to reject anti-Russian energy sanctions when it’s deemed to not be in the best interests of one’s own people and industry. Since the beginning of conflict, Hungary has secured energy agreements with Russia. It has also given the green light for Russia to build new nuclear reactors.
Hungary has shown the courage to save itself, while the rest of the EU is imposing greater control on their citizens’ energy use while telling them to brace for austerity. Europe will be the major loser when America offers a better future by promising to destroy what is already there, as the entire world has learned. Washington is always looking out for its own interests, first and foremost, as Granholm’s letter confirms. The EU should consider doing the same before it’s too late.
Statements, opinions and views expressed in this column do not reflect those of RT.