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house Bill H.R. 1616

Should the U.S. Invest in Natural Gas & Energy Infrastructure in Central & Eastern Europe to Counter Russian Influence?

Argument in favor

Europe’s dependence on Russian energy makes it susceptible to Russian manipulation and coercion. Helping our European allies diversify their energy sources will help them become less beholden to Russia, benefiting both regional and global security.

Daniel's Opinion
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03/26/2019
Reading reasons against posted by others, most say we should be investing in renewable energy. Is there a reason we can’t do both?
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Mark's Opinion
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03/24/2019
The more influence we lose the weaker we become
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James's Opinion
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03/24/2019
That’s. Wise idea as most European countries get their natural gas from Russia! Russia used it as both a bargaining tool and a threat to cut off! We have an endless supply of natural gas and it can be liquified and transported by ship to Europe!
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Argument opposed

Investing in new energy infrastructure and projects in Europe likely won’t break Russia’s current dominance in the market, because Russian exports are cheap and readily available.

DavisTrev's Opinion
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03/24/2019
We should not fight Russia on their terms. Instead we should invest heavily and rapidly in renewables, which is the energy sector of the future. Renewables will soon dominate the energy sector and America could be a top manufacturer, making us indispensable to world energy markets. This would certainly be of interest to our economic prosperity as well as national interests. Advancing fossil fuel free technology would undermine our geopolitical rival, Russia, since they rely heavily on oil prices, which would collapse under market pressures. It would also decrease the worlds hyper focus on the Middle East, which is being torn apart by various powers vying for control of the oil. Saving the planet for my grandchildren would be the icing on the cake.
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Bhuvanesh's Opinion
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03/24/2019
No, the US should invest only in renewables regardless of other foreign policy goals.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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03/24/2019
We should be investing in renewable energy infrastructure, not fossil fuels.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
  • The house Passed March 25th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 391 Yea / 24 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedMarch 7th, 2019

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What is House Bill H.R. 1616?

This bill — the European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019 — would authorize up to $1 billion in financing to catalyze U.S. public and private sector investment in strategically important energy projects in eligible Central & Eastern European countries from fiscal years 2020 through 2024. These projects would include natural gas infrastructure and electricity infrastructure and funding would come from the Countering Russian Influence Fund.

It’d also authorize the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to spend $5 million per year on project feasibility studies, reverse trade missions, pilot projects, and technical workshops to support projects in early development.

Finally, this bill would encourage the State Department to ramp up its political and diplomatic support to eligible countries. This includes facilitating negotiations for cross-border energy infrastructure and assisting eligible countries with improving their energy markets and regulatory environments.

The full list of eligible countries would include Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; the Czech Republic; Estonia; Greece; Hungary; Kosovo; Latvia; Lithuania; Macedonia; Moldova; Montenegro; Poland; Romania; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; and Ukraine.

Impact

Oil and natural gas; Central and Eastern European allies; State Department; and the USTDA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1616

$496.00 Million
The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost $496 million over the 2019-2029 period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) introduced this bill to help European countries attain a secure, diverse supply of energy while reducing Russia’s influence over European energy markets:

“The United States is the world’s top energy producer, where American oil output has more than doubled over the last ten years. We know that the Russian Federation has long used energy as a weapon to coerce, manipulate, and create conflict among European governments. This legislation would help our European partners develop and diversify their own energy sources, which would increase their own security and defend against the malign activities of the Kremlin. We have an opportunity to support our allies, and with U.S. diplomatic, political, and technical support, we can stop Russia from using energy as a means to threaten the security of our European partners. Thank you to my colleagues in the House and Senate for joining me in this effort to increase global energy security.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) added:

“Russia has long weaponized its grip on energy through Europe. In the face of growing threats to our security and that of our allies, we need to stand together as part of a strong and unified coalition. This bill is a major step forward in helping our European partners lessen Russian influence over the energy sector while also fostering EU-US cooperation, private investment, and low-carbon pathways. Winning solutions for our allies, our economies, and our climate are available, and this bipartisan, bicameral legislation works to advance them.”

In August 2018, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute wrote an op-ed in The Hill, arguing that it’s in America's best interests to help its European allies develop energy sources outside Russia:

“[A] key vulnerability for many in Europe is their dependence on Russian energy, particularly natural gas. While Putin has yet to play this card beyond Ukraine, energy intimidation must be a national security concern among many of our NATO allies… The European Union, which includes most of our NATO allies, gets about 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia. While Germany has been critiqued for importing about a third of its gas from Russia, allies in Lithuania and Estonia are 100 percent dependent on Russian gas. Concerns increase as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would increase Russian imports to Europe. If Russia decided to manipulate these energy streams, or even intimidate by threatening to do so, it could cripple the European allies… Given the dependence of our European allies on Russian energy, it is in U.S. national security interest to reduce Russian potential for influence by diversifying gas sources to Europe… Energy security is national security. This means reducing the dependence of our European allies on Russian energy.  It is in the national interest of the U.S. to stand with our allies to do all that we can to help diversify their energy sources.”

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has called partnering with allies to deliver non-Russian energy to Eastern Europe a major priority for the Trump administration:

“An energy policy where we can deliver energy to Eastern Europe, where we are a partner with people around the globe, where they know that we will supply them energy and there are no strings attached is one of the most powerful messages that we can send to Russia.”

Dr. Mamdouh Salameh, international oil economist and professor of energy economics at the ESCP Europe Business School, argues that this bill is unlikely to significantly alter the European energy market, even though it’s politically attractive:

“Given the growing anti-Russian atmosphere in the United States Congress and the United States’ attempts to challenge Russia’s emergence as the energy super power of the world and also given US self-interest and Russia’s dominance in the gas market in the European Union, there is a reasonable probability that the proposed European Energy Security and Diversification Act will be approved by the US Senate… [However,] US LNG cannot compete under any circumstances with Russian piped gas to Europe. Russia has a fully integrated gas industry underpinned by the world’s second largest proven reserves of natural gas, the cheapest production costs, does not have to convert its gas to LNG to ship it to Europe and already has a monopoly on export pipelines to Europe… Russia provides roughly 40 percent of Europe’s gas needs and that dominance will continue well into the future.”

This legislation passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee on a voice vote and has the support of seven bipartisan cosponsors, including four Republicans and three Democrats.


Of NoteRussia is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union through state-owned enterprise Gazprom, which currently controls 35 percent of Europe’s gas market. Gazprom’s ambition is to increase its market share to 40 percent due to declining European production in other areas, and the lower cost of extracting gas in Russia. Some observers say that Russia could double its gas exports by 2030 to meet growing global demand — putting Russia on par with Qatar, the world’s largest liquified natural gas producer.

In recent years, Russia has been accused of using energy pipeline shutdowns as an intimidation tactic to blackmail governments in disputes with the Kremlin.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell & Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Gestur Gislason)

AKA

To prioritize the efforts of and enhance coordination among United States agencies to encourage countries in Europe and Eurasia to diversify their energy sources and supply routes, increase energy security in the region, and help the United States reach i

Official Title

To prioritize the efforts of and enhance coordination among United States agencies to encourage countries in Central and Eastern Europe to diversify their energy sources and supply routes, increase Europe's energy security, and help the United States reach its global energy security goals, and for other purposes.

    Reading reasons against posted by others, most say we should be investing in renewable energy. Is there a reason we can’t do both?
    Like (28)
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    Share
    We should not fight Russia on their terms. Instead we should invest heavily and rapidly in renewables, which is the energy sector of the future. Renewables will soon dominate the energy sector and America could be a top manufacturer, making us indispensable to world energy markets. This would certainly be of interest to our economic prosperity as well as national interests. Advancing fossil fuel free technology would undermine our geopolitical rival, Russia, since they rely heavily on oil prices, which would collapse under market pressures. It would also decrease the worlds hyper focus on the Middle East, which is being torn apart by various powers vying for control of the oil. Saving the planet for my grandchildren would be the icing on the cake.
    Like (124)
    Follow
    Share
    No, the US should invest only in renewables regardless of other foreign policy goals.
    Like (62)
    Follow
    Share
    We should be investing in renewable energy infrastructure, not fossil fuels.
    Like (58)
    Follow
    Share
    The more influence we lose the weaker we become
    Like (27)
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    The U.S. needs to invest in our own infrastructure!!! Roads Bridges Water delivery systems all over the country. And while they’re at they should go on and finish helping Puerto Ricos recovery from the Hurricanes!!! And I thought we were the top exporters of both.. Trey Hollingsworth, could you give a reason why you voted yes on this???
    Like (22)
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    The USA should invest only in renewable energy projects in the future to not only be a leader in this area but to encourage others to move in this direction in order to obtain Climate Change goals from the treaty we foolishly dropped out of faster and more completely. This will drive our economy, bring meaningful employment, improve health and environment and help save the planet in the future. Why invest in a dying industry? Plus that will really screw with Russia!
    Like (14)
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    That’s. Wise idea as most European countries get their natural gas from Russia! Russia used it as both a bargaining tool and a threat to cut off! We have an endless supply of natural gas and it can be liquified and transported by ship to Europe!
    Like (13)
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    Absolutely not. This is just Big Polluters trying to game the system. Invest in solar and wind and other sustainable energy!
    Like (10)
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    Why don’t we try investing in something that is good for everyone, like clean new energy. Creates thousands of jobs. Helps keep our planet clean. Nothing good comes from a few getting richer and richer off the backs of the poor. I don’t trust that anything this administration does will be the right and ethical choice for our country or for countries abroad.
    Like (9)
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    How about we invest in renewable energy instead of fossil fuels? Instead of trying to play a game of geopolitical chess with Russia, maybe we should try to invest in renewable energy across the world in order to mitigate catastrophic climate change?
    Like (8)
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    We need a green new deal.
    Like (8)
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    A lot of the problems in the Middle East are directly related to an oil pipeline that would go from the Middle East to Europe. Whoever controls the pipeline the Russians or US will have the money to fund the bigger Military and be the biggest Superpower. However if we just gave renewable energy to Europe, we would nullify the need for the pipeline and meddling with the Middle East putting in people who are friendly to US but many times not to their own people. Also big oil has influenced foreign policy to war because this land has already been divided up and given to these oil companies. They want control of that oil and money asap no matter the cost because no matter the cost they will make so much money they are blind to all other costs including human lives.
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    The partnership and significant competition created in doing so, will certainly create the necessary leverage for the United States and it's allies. Any decision against doing so is short sighted and lacks the long term vision. Don't let China jump in before we do!
    Like (6)
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    How about we start investing in Solar and wind farms around the US to replace coal and hydro? We could also help countries build wind and solar systems so they can get off fossil fuels also.
    Like (6)
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    The US should be releasing the technology to end dependence on fossil fuels, like automotive engines operating on hydrogen and utilizing WATER as fuel with water vapor the sole emission. THIS TECHNOLOGY EXISTS AND SHOULD BE PUT INTO PRODUCTION, CORPORATE INTERESTS IN OIL NOTWITHSTANDING.
    Like (6)
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    Renewable energy ONLY.
    Like (6)
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    Nay to HR 1616! Stand for renewables! Keep fossil fuels in the ground. Let’s promote energy that combats extreme climate changes and scientific facts! Do not except bribes from fossil fuel lobbyists! Choose life over greed!
    Like (5)
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    We need to Go Green. For our health and environment.
    Like (5)
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    No, cuz Russia is wasting its time and money on an old hat energy resource. The future is clean energy, and that’s where money should be invested.
    Like (5)
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